Marble Arch - Lost Bridge of Central Park - Central Park

Marble Arch – Lost Bridge of Central Park

Marble Arch

Marble Arch was once located at the very foot of the Mall, giving pedestrians safe passage underneath the park drive at 66th St. It was also the only bridge in the park actually made of marble.  It fell victim to the needs of increased automobile traffic entering the park and was demolished in 1938. The arch was collapsed and is presumed to still exist beneath the ground. While the precise location is known, no archaeological effort has ever been made to unearth it.

Clarence Cook wrote of this graceful, restful underpass in A Description of the New York Central Park, published in 1869:

This is one of the pleasantest and most elegantly built of all these cool places for rest and refreshment. It is entered at one end of a level with a foot path; at the other a double stairway to the left and right leads to the level of the Mall and to the carriage-road which this archway is designed to carry. It is called the marble archway to distinguish it, all other structures of this sort in the Park being built either of stone, or brick, or of brick and stone combined. The marble employed is the coarse limestone from the Westchester quarries. . . . A marble bench runs along each side, and at the end . . . a semicircular niche accommodates those who prefer the fuller light that reaches from the stairway. In this niche there is to be placed a suitable marble basin with drinking cups, but, present water is obtained from a common hydrant. The interior of this archway is peculiarly light and attractive, and far more cheerful than other structures of a similar sort in the Park. Here, on a warm day, the children and their nurses gather with their luncheon-baskets, or the reader with his book and sandwich.

Marble Arch exemplified another functional purpose of the many pedestrian arches in Central Park — that of a shelter. Somewhat similar to Willowdell Arch, Marble Arch had continuous benches on both sides and a drinking fountain. Its fluid detail reflected a similarity with the aesthetically complete interiors and ceilings of some other notable bridges and archways, such as Terrace Bridge.


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