Fortunately, Central Park stays open until 1am.
If you ever want to see Central Park completely empty, just go on a cold winter night.
The pictures on this post are from three separate nights. The first one was freezing. Like crazy cold. February 13 had a high of 22 and a low of 6, with a windchill in the negatives.
And if you think I just waited until it was really late and there was nobody around, this picture was taken at 7:30pm on the West side. I ran through the park for about 20 minutes and then walked for another 10 or 15. The entire time, I saw 5 people. Two dog walkers, a couple, and one other runner.
This one was taken around 5:40pm on the East side a few days later.
I'm telling you, you'll find more people in a frozen yogurt place on a winter's night than you will in Central Park.
If you're concerned about running in the Park at night, rest your fears aside. Most of the paths are really well lit. And with the exception of cold winter nights, it's still pretty busy until around 10 or 11, even up here on the north end of the Park.
There are a few paths devoid of light, like the dreaded Bridle Path. Never run the Bridle Path at night. And honestly, it's my least favorite path to run in the daytime too.
Run through that tunnel if you want to get your adrenaline going. I did. I don't recommend it. Hopefully Isa won't read this part of the post. :) With good reason, she likes me to be safe when I run at night. So normally I stick to the main paths.
So the first freezing night I ran with the Olympus - it's freeze-proof. The Canon only works to about 30 degrees. Isa and I took it out during the blizzard and it started having some issues once it got too cold. But this second night (2/17) got up to 35 degrees, so I ran with the Canon. It takes much clearer pictures at night.
On my quest to run every path in Central Park again, I felt like I've been neglecting the south part of the Park. I also love the midtown skyline at night, so I wanted to photograph it. I ran just under 4 miles.
From Columbus Circle, I cut across the Park to the Pond. The workers were taking the ice down at Wollman Rink. Winter is over (although it didn't feel like it).
The rink and the pond are really well lit. Since the south part of the Park is where the tourists usually are, this whole section is really safe to run at night - lots of people and plenty of patrol cars cruising around.
There's no flash on that picture. It's just that bright. Here's the view from the other side.
I tried my best to lean my camera on something stable so the long exposures came out clearly.
When I was taking these skyline pictures, I noticed the stars and I seriously went a little crazy. You don't see stars in Manhattan. Especially not in midtown. But you can actually see Orion here!
The pond was still recovering from the frozen week we just went through.
I ran up through the Mall, but it's wide open so I had nothing to rest my camera on and all the pictures turned out blurry, so I decided to come back with the tripod later. This was the best I could get.
From the Mall, I ran up through the Ramble to the Belvedere Castle.
And then cut through to one of my favorite views of the midtown skyline.
I liked it tonight, but I like it better without the ice. I'll get it later in the season.
So two days later (2/19) it was borderline too cold to use the Canon, but I went for it anyway. And I brought the tripod so I could set up pictures wherever I felt like it.
This was the first picture I took and immediately I noticed I had forgotten something important. My camera battery was blinking red. :(
So I ran straight over to the Mall to get what I came for. I was afraid that there'd be people around, so I waited until 11:30pm to go. And it was empty for the entire 20 minutes I was there. This is what the Mall looks like at night from Bethesda Terrace.
Not a single soul as far as you can see. I moved up to get it from a few vantage points.
I loved that the night was so still. The branches didn't move at all throughout the 20-second exposure. The camera died after the third shot, so I waited for a minute and took a shot facing north.
I'll have to take the tripod out another night (with a full battery) and get some more shots around the park. For now, if you want to see more night shots from Central Park, check out my run around the Harlem Meer:
|Click the picture to go to the Harlem Meer in Winter run.|