Welcome to Manhattan’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary! The Hallett Nature Sanctuary is located in the southeastern section of world famous Central Park near Central Park South and 5th Avenue. The sanctuary is an estimated 4 acre rocky upland woodland slope that forms the northern boundary of the artificially created 59th street pond.
A fence surrounds the forest to the north and west. The western side features a man-made waterfall which falls over Manhattan schist.
The Hallett Nature Sanctuary is the smallest of Central Park’s three woodlands. Formerly known as the Promontory, it was renamed the Hallett Nature Sanctuary in 1986 after George Hervey Hallett, Jr. Hallett was a well known NYC civic leader and nature lover. The land which became the Hallett Nature Sanctuary was declared a bird sanctuary and formally closed to the general public in 1934.
The preserve served as a living experiment to see how 4 acres of woodland would ecologically function in the United State’s most populated city. The results of the experiment were less than encouraging. All four layers of the forest (the canopy, sub-canopy, shrub and herbaceous layers) were found to be under onslaught from invasive plants including:
Wisteria has been shown to strangle and leave deep indentations on plants it grasps as shown in the picture listed below.
On occasion, the Central Park Conservancy holds tours of the 59th Street pond and the Hallett Nature Sanctuary. The preserve is also open for your own exploration depending on weather conditions.
A short log lined woodchip trail encircles the sanctuary. The woodchip trail helps water to absorb more easier into the ground preventing erosion on the steep sections of the sanctuary. In the growing season (spring & summer) as you walk the trail and listen to the tour guide it is hard to believe that you are feet away from Central Park South.
The highlight of the tour is discovering the source of the waterfall located on the western border that empties into the pond. Visitors walking by may think the waterfall is generated by a natural spring. The real source is man-made; the waterfall can be turned on and off.
Flora in the Hallett Nature Sanctuary includes the below among others:
The Central Park Conservancy is adding to the list of native plants by planting in the herbaceous , shrub and canopy layers of the forest.
Many species of birds find a home in Hallett Nature Sanctuary including:
Notable mammals include:
Turtle laying eggs near pond by Hallett sanctuaryIt is worth taking a Central Park Conservancy led tour of this cool preserve in the middle of NYC. Click here for tour contact information.
Feel free to comment below with any bird sightings, interesting plants, memories or suggestions! Thank you and have fun exploring!
Great Books on Central Park:
- Central Park, An American Masterpiece: A Comprehensive History of the Nation’s First Urban Park
- Seeing Central Park: The Official Guide to the World’s Greatest Urban Park