Sunday in the Park with George III


It’s no secret that Central Park is rife with many fascinating and historic secrets. However, a newly divulged tidbit from that verdant green went beyond the fascinating and historic towards the stratum of the explosive.

From the 1860s until today, Central Park had an eighteenth century cannon on public display…fully loaded with ball and 800 grams of gunpowder! In short, all dressed up and ready to go kaboom!

The Revolutionary War-era gun was one of two being stored at the park’s Ramble shed near the 79th Street transverse. Workers were cleaning the cannon (who were twice fortunate if they weren’t smoking at the time) when they soon discovered that it was still loaded. Naturally, they quickly called the police who arrived along with, I’d presume, an armada of other emergency personnel in search of a time-killer hangout.

In fairness, it never occurred to anyone that the cannon, which is said to be at least 233 years old, would still pose a threat. The field piece was already more than 90 years old when it was donated to the park, apparently by someone who’d salvaged it from a sunken British frigate in the East River. It was put on display at the park, and capped with concrete. No one even considered the possibility that British sailors had loaded and sealed it before their ship went down.

For John Moore, who is working on a book called “The Secrets of Central Park,” this is a new one.

“This is an amazing surprise. It was there for so many years and people were sitting on it when it was a loaded cannon,” Moore said.

Heavens to Murgatroyd! He’s right. Before being moved to the shelter of the Conservancy in 1996, the cannon sat outside amongst unsuspecting park-goers. Many would lounge about/ upon the apparently dormant artillery piece (this blogger being one of them) basking in the fresh air. I remember those moments with fondness, casually perched atop that old relic while smoking a cigarette, totally unaware of how close I may have come to getting a bang out of it.

CBS New York

2 comments on “Sunday in the Park with George III

  1. sonofwalt says:

    Holy loaded relics, Batman!

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