Central Park's Ladies Pavilion is a secluded spot located near 75th Street on the west side of the park, next to The Lake. The Pavilion's antique-style construction, location, and beauty have made it one of the most sought-after park locations for special events, especially weddings ceremonies and photo shoots.
The Pavilion is made from cast iron, slate, wood, and stone and is situated on The Lake at Hernshead, a rock structure that resembles the shape of a heron. The Pavilion's floor is made from Manhattan schist coping stones that had originally been part of another Central Park structure. Coupled with the Pavilion's lakeside location and ample roof, the stone floor makes the Pavilion a cool respite on hot summer days. Bluestone steps lead to the Pavilion from two sides – one entrance faces the lake, and the other faces the path to the Pavilion. The roof is made of gray slate and is crowned with intricate ironwork that both enhances its aesthetic appeal and discourages birds from landing there. Thick iron poles resplendent with intricate Victorian designs support the roof. The Pavilion measures approximately 9 by 15 feet and weighs about 2 tons. Its ironwork is painted gray with gold-leaf accents; the arcade frieze is light green with gray, and the railings are painted gray. When the Pavilion was restored in 1972, a concrete foundation was poured to protect the structure. The openness and airiness of the Pavilion make it ideal for gatherings and allows plenty of photo opportunities from almost any angle.
The name Hernshead was coined by Olmsted and Vaux, the park's designers. The Pavilion's location near this promontory makes it an ideal location for viewing The Lake as well as enjoying the flowers that are planted here, which include shrubs, herbs, an aquatic flora. The Pavilion's out-of-the-way location and Victorian-style design makes this structure a popular first-date spot. However, the Pavilion wasn't always at Hernshead. It was built in 1871 by Jacob Wrey Mould, and it was placed at 59th Street and Eighth Avenue to serve park visitors who needed to wait for trolley service at the end of the day. People traveled from distant points in Manhattan and beyond to enjoy Central Park's many natural amenities, but waiting in poor weather conditions was an obstacle. The creation of this and other shelters at trolley pick-up points helped make Central Park accessible to all, as it was intended to be. The Pavilion may have once included benches, though it does not have seating today.
In the early 20th century, the Pavilion was moved to its current location at Hernshead. Before that move, the spot was home to the Ladies Cottage, a place for women who wanted to ice skate on The Lake – after the move, the Pavilion served the same purpose. When the Wollman Rink was built, the Pavilion was used less, though it was restored both in 1972 and in 1984. Today, the Pavilion is a cherished location for intimate Central Park weddings and other special events.