(Photo by Vivienne Gucwa)

"Locals call west side of the Park the best side." — Central Park, Twitter, December 2015.

But is it?

If you had to pick just one side of Central Park, the east or west, to visit: which would it be? If you could only take one side of Central Park to a deserted island, which one would you take and spend eternity with? If there was an electric, invisible fence in the exact center of the Park, and you were about to be fitted with a chip that would shock you if you passed it, which side of the Park would you want to be on when that chip was installed?

You will never have to answer these questions, probably, but at a young age the urge to pick sides was instilled in us all.

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While the Great Lawn, the Ramble, and the Reservoir are shared, let's take a look at what each side uniquely has to offer:

EAST SIDE

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Central Park Zoo
Conservatory Garden (do you know this is an official Quiet Zone?)
Bird Sanctuary
The Mall
Bethesda Fountain (note: also called the Angel of the Waters Fountain, one of the most famous fountains in the world, and the only sculpture commissioned in the original design of Central Park)
Harlem Meer
The Pond
Dinosaurs?
Wolman Rink
The Obelisk (which also has a time capsule under it!)
Rumsey Playfield
The Naumburg Bandshell (Martin Luther King, Jr. gave a speech here)
The Loeb Boathouse
The Dairy
Cherry Hill
Literary Walk
Model boat sailing

Nearby attractions:

Museum of the City of New York
Guggenheim Museum
Jewish Museum
Musee del Barrio
Cooper Hewitt Museum
Whitney Museum
Frick Collection
The Plaza


Lennon lived on the West Side, but this video shows him mostly on the East Side of the Park.

WEST SIDE

Belvedere Castle
Sheep Meadow
Tavern on the Green
Bow Bridge
Sheep Meadow
Strawberry Fields
Ball fields
Shakespeare Garden
Delacorte Theater
The Lake (boats!)
Tennis courts
North Woods
Dinosaurs???
Carousel
Tennis house

Nearby attractions:

American Museum of Natural History
NY-Historical Society
Columbus Circle
The Dakota

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(Photo by Alison Diviney)

There are other factors at play, however, and the biggest one is transportation. The West Side is exponentially easier to access, given the proximity of more subway lines. The B, D, A, C, 1, 2, 3, and Q will all get to various areas near the West Side, while the East Side relies heavily on the 4, 5, 6, you can also catch the F, N, R, and Q nearby. The West Side wins the accessibility challenge.

Then there are the vistas. The Park's Iconic Views tour highlights the Dairy, Sheep Meadow, Cherry Hill, the Lake, Bow Bridge, Bethesda Terrace, The Mall, and Literary Walk. 5 of the 8 of these are on the East Side, so that's where the trophy for this one goes.

There have also been plenty of movies shot there—this is not a comprehensive list, but it's a fair breakdown showing what Hollywood prefers when it comes to the Park.

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Love Story made us cry in Central Park.

East Side

  • The Plaza Hotel, which we're counting as an East Side attraction, was featured in Hitchcock's 1959 classic North By Northwest, as well as The Way We Were, The Great Gatsby, Barefoot in the Park, Funny Girl, Cotton Club, Almost Famous, Brewster's Millions, Crocodile Dundee I and II, and Home Alone II: Lost In New York.
  • Big Daddy, Kramer vs. Kramer, and Maid in Manhattan at The Mall.
  • Breakfast at Tiffany's and Hair at the Naumburg Bandshell.
  • Angels in America, Ransom, and Stewart Little II at Bethesda Fountain.
  • Love Story and Serendipity at Wollman Rink.

West Side

  • It Could Happen To You and Wall Street, and The Manchurian Candidate in Sheep Meadow.
  • Autumn in New York, Keeping The Faith, and Uptown Girls at Bow Bridge.
  • Ghostbusters, Edward Scissorhands, and Beaches at Tavern on the Green.
  • The Producers at the Carousel.
  • 27 Dresses at the Boathouse.

It's undeniable that each side has a pretty strong lineup, and the Central Park Conservancy has worked tirelessly to make it all perfect... but we're giving the East Side the overall win here, because that side has the red pandas.

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(Photo by Julie Larsen Maher, WCS)

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