For the first time since 1862, Central Park is naming one of its entrances.
The entrance at Central Park North at 110th Street, between Malcolm X Boulevard and Fifth Avenue, will now be known as “The Gate of the Exonerated”—after the exonerated “Central Park Five” who were wrongfully convicted of beating and raping a female jogger in the park more than 30 years ago—and will have an accompanying inscription in stone on the perimeter wall.
The gate (entrance) name was approved last week at a New York City Public Design Commission meeting, where officials said it will serve as a reminder of the ongoing struggle and fight to ensure justice for everyone and as a moment of reconciliation.
“Today’s unanimous vote is the capstone of years of work with the Harlem community and Manhattan Community Board 10 to commemorate the Exonerated Five and all those wrongfully convicted of crimes,” a spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy said in a statement. “The Central Park Conservancy has worked alongside the Harlem community for more than 40 years, and we are proud to have helped the Gate of the Exonerated come to life in a way that emphasizes how Central Park is meant to be a place for everyone.”
The decision is in line with what the park’s original board of commissioners had in mind—no entrance was meant to be named after a specific person but after communities and populations the park was meant to serve, according to the Conservancy.
The historic names of Central Park’s entrances were meant to “be representative of the whole people” and “extend to each citizen a respectful welcome.”
It wasn’t until the Robert Moses area that entrances were actually inscribed. Around the park’s perimeter, you can find the “Artisans’ Gate,” the “Merchants’ Gate,” the “Scholars’ Gate” and the “Artists’ Gate.” Others include the “Farmers’ Gate,” the “Miners’ Gate,” the “Mariners Gate, the “Inventors’ Gate,” the “Pioneers’ Gate,” the “Women’s Gate,” the “Children’s Gate,” the “Girls Gate” the “Boys’ Gate,” the “Strangers’ Gate” and the “Gate of All Saints.”
The gate marked as “The Gate of the Exonerated” is not an original park entrance—it was added during the Robert Moses era but it is now a significant entrance because it’s near where the Five are from and is a popular entrance to the park for Harlem residents, the Conservancy said during the meeting.
“The Gate of the Exonerated symbolizes the resiliency of the Exonerated Five and all those who have been wrongfully convicted, and serves as a lasting reminder of the grave miscarriage of justice that took place more than three decades ago,” Mayor Eric Adams said, according to CNN. “Today marks a moment of truth and reconciliation for New York City, and it’s only fitting that the most iconic park in the world tell the world this important story. I thank the Harlem community leaders and Community Board 10, whose advocacy made this naming, the first in Central Park’s history since 1862, a reality.”
Below is a photo from the Central Park Conservancy showing the gate’s sign being etched out of sandstone.
The entrance also features a sign with information about the entrance’s name and a QR code that goes to additional resources.
It was unveiled to the public on Saturday evening in a ceremony with remarks from the Exonerated 5, Community Board 10, NYC Parks, Central Park Conservancy and elected officials as well as singing, drumming, and poetry and an exhibit on the history of Central Park’s named gates over at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center nearby.