Central Park is full of delights: cute dogs, film crews, baby strollers, guerilla art. But do you ever wish you could see a bit more of its wild side?
Now’s your chance. After 80 years of hosting only birds, insects, and at least one coyote, Hallett Nature Sanctuary is once again open to human visitors. Weeded and restored, it also boasts a new raw wood gate, fresh trails, and yet another hidden space—a “sanctuary within a sanctuary” featuring hilltop benches donated by a local gem dealer, reports the New York Times.
Once called the Promontory, the four-acre area was closed off in 1934 by Robert Moses, who wanted to preserve it as a bird sanctuary. Left to fend for itself, it became overgrown with non-native plants, less a sanctuary than a muddle of weeds and branches. In 1986, it was renamed for George Harvey Hallett, Jr.—a peace-loving birdwatcher who once served as the executive secretary of the Citizen’s Union—but kept closed.
The Central Park Conservancy began restoring it in 2001, as part of a $40 million Woodlands Initiative. “Hallett Nature Sanctuary is a perfect example of how even the ‘wildest,’ most naturalistic habitats in Central Park require constant planning and care in order to thrive,” its website explains .
Now it’s all birds, nice plants, and gem dealer benches. Those who want to explore its slightly tamer trails can do so during specific windows listed on the Conservancy’s website.
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