The four-acre sanctuary was closed to the public and preserved as a bird sanctuary by NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in 1934. It remained untouched until 2001, when the Central Park Conservancy decided to tackle maintenance. It officially reopened at the beginning of May.
The sanctuary is full of new pathways and benches where visitors can enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Since it was kept off the map for so long, many people are unaware it exists and don't know how to get there. We took a trip to Central Park to see for ourselves.
Tucked away in the southeast corner of Central Park, right near the pond, you'll find the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. It was overpowered by weeds and ignored until just recently.
The best way to get there is to enter the park at the southeast edge, near the corner of 6th Avenue and Central Park South. If you're having trouble finding this location, you can always ask one of the park employees who work in various stands around Central Park. After looking on Google Maps, I found this route to be the easiest way to get to the sanctuary.
Once you see that entrance, head down the stairs and make a left.
Next, walk about 20 feet and make a right.
Head straight up these short stairs.
Once you reach this four-way intersection, you're almost there!
Make a right at the four-way intersection and walk about 30 feet.
And there it is! Volunteers in the front can answer any questions you may have about the sanctuary. This is the only entrance, and until recently, it was double-gated to keep people from entering.
The tricky part is catching a time to view the sanctuary during its operating hours. It's open on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m.
Starting July 1, it will be open Mondays and Fridays from 2 p.m. through 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 2 p.m. through 7 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m.
Since it opened regularly earlier this month, people have been flocking to see the beautiful nature that surrounds this four-acre plot. Right now, the nature looks pretty similar to the rest of Central Park, but planting is still going on. Soon, there will be a greater range of flowers, like sharp lobed hepatica and maidenhair fern.
The Hallett Nature Sanctuary was named after George Harvey Hallett, Jr., a local birdwatcher, naturalist, and civic leader.
Throughout the sanctuary, you'll see volunteers in green, who can direct you through the area and answer any questions you might have.
Areas of the sanctuary look over the Central Park Pond.
A volunteer worker explained that everything in the park is man-made. Pipes were installed to add small waterfalls, such as the one below.
The opening and maintenance was done under a $40 million project called the Central Park Conservancy's Woodlands Initiative, which plans to restore areas like the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. Workers and volunteers of the Central Park Conservancy plant new plants and maintain the area.
The area has rustic wood gates and benches, which add to the natural feel.
It's a popular spot for birds and birdwatchers.
But all in all, the Hallett Nature Sanctuary is a great stop for anyone looking to get away from the rush.