Last Updated on 7th November 2020 by Sophie Nadeau
Across the world, Central Park in New York is known as one of the most popular and famous places to visit in NYC. Home to plenty of iconic landmarks, one of the most beautiful locations in the entirety of the green space is that of Bethesda Terrace, Steps, and Fountain. Here’s how to visit, a quick history, and things to know before you go.
A history of Bethesda Terrace
Located on the Southern shore of the Lake of Central Park, at 72nd Street Cross Drive, you’ll know you’re in the right place when you spy the dual staircase behind a fountain, designed by Jacob Wrey Mould, and crowned with a statue named Angel of the Waters.
The architectural features date all the way back to the mid 19th-century and was actually completed during the American Civil War. The designers of the area envisioned the place to be “the heart of the park,” and the design to be “nature first, second, and third—architecture after a while.”
The Terrace is one of the park’s only ‘formal features’ still standing to this day, with the original band stand and Casino restaurant having since been demolished. One of the most striking features of the area is undoubtedly the Minton tiles which decorate the undercover section of the grand staircases.
Over the decades, Bethesda Terrace has seen many different uses. For example, during the 1960s, the undercover section of the steps was used as an outdoor luncheon restaurant. During the 1970s, the site was used for more nefarious trades before being restored by the Central Park Conservancy during the early 1980’s.
In times gone by, Mintons Company was a major producer of Staffordshire Pottery. What is perhaps so unusual about the mustard yellow tiles is that they were removed from Bethesda Terrace in the 1980s as it was deemed too expensive to restore the works.
The tiles then sat in storage for around two decades before a 7 million dollar restoration project was undertaken in order to finally restore the Minton tiles to their original location. The tiles were finally restored to their previous glory in 2007.
To this day, the arcade remains the only ceiling in the world featuring Minton tiles. What’s more is that there are close to 16,000 tiles in total and they collectively weigh some 50 tonnes. Given the right lighting conditions and at the right time of the day, the tiles form beautiful light patterns and are one of the most beautiful places in NYC to photograph.
Bethesda Terrace as a filming location
Of course, the beautiful tiling backdrop and ease of location means that the steps are a favourite among TV and film producers as a movie location. Perhaps most famously of all, Bethesda Steps were used to film the scene in Gossip Girl where Blair and Chuck get married.
In other productions, the central terrace and fountains have been used as the backdrop for scenes in the TV series Quantico, the film When in Rome, the movie Made of Honor, the film the Other Woman, and countless other hit productions.