Summer in Central Park overlooking Conservatory Water. Central Park, New York City.
Conservatory Water in Central Park is a special spot in Central Park. Inspired by the model boat ponds of late 19th century Paris, the designers of Central Park created this pond specifically for people to enjoy the pleasure of model boating in New York City. Model boating usually incorporates scaled down models of real boats. It was a popular hobby in the 19th century and has grown into something of a sport in recent decades. Radio-controlled boats can go up to 20 miles per hour and model boating has come to include radio-controlled submarines, sailboats and yachts.
Reports of model boating in Central Park date as far back as 1875 when the NY Times ran a piece that mentioned model yachting in Central Park. Early boat races consisted of non-radio controlled model boats being placed in a set spot in the pond with a targeted goal. The time it took each boat to reach the set goal determined the winner. It wasn’t until after Nikola Tesla invented a wireless radio controlled boat in the late 1800s that model boat racing took on a whole other dimension. The Central Park Model Yacht Club was founded in 1916 and members competed against each other as well as in huge international championships. In 1934, model boat races in Central Park were at their peak with as many as a thousand model boats racing each other.
This spot, with its rich history, is one of my favorite summer spots in New York City. Ducks sit on the edge of the pond while onlookers lazily observe the model boats racing across the pond with the beautiful buildings that line this part of Central Park serving as a beautiful backdrop.