Serpent Hill

Just north of Sheep Meadow is a beautiful sloping piece of land that borders Central Park Driveway and Terrace Drive. A perfect place to stretch out on a blanket on a warm summer day or toss around a football on a crisp autumn afternoon, this hill has no official name on any park map, which might have something to do with its less than pleasant past; for this area was once known as Serpent Hill.

Before Central Park was a lush, well manicured oasis in the middle of Manhattan, it was an untamed wilderness in the middle of Manhattan.  Park planners faced the arduous task of draining acres of swampland, clearing trees for paths and roads, and chasing out the wild and undesired creatures still living in the park.

So after they got the Germans and Irish to leave, they set their sights on the snakes.

By the mid 19th century, hundreds of thousands of snakes lived in the dense greenery that was to become Central Park. While it is unclear how the snake population got so out of hand, some historians believe it had to do with the lax immigration policies at the time.

After all attempts had been exhausted to coerce the snakes to relocate to affordable housing in the outer boroughs, squads of volunteers moved across the park on April 3 1858 to drive the snakes out once and for all. The snakes decided to make their final stand on Serpent Hill, probably because the thick brush and large rocks provided cover, and Sheep Meadow was being aerated at the time.  The serpents fought hard that day, but they were quickly overwhelmed by club weilding humans looking for snake meat and fancy belts.

Though no plaque or memorial has ever been erected in their honor, reptile lovers come from all over to pay their respect to the valiant snakes who gave their lives and skins on Serpent Hill.


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