So here’s a scary scenario: You’re hunting Pokemon in Central Park, not looking where you’re going, when suddenly your phone battery dies. You have no idea where you are. What to do? Look for a lamp! There’s a secret embedded in the Central Park lamppost numbers that can tell you where you are in the park. Who needs a phone when you’ve got the 109-year-old version of Google Maps?
Central Park stretches across beautiful 843 acres, and, though the park is in the middle of Manhattan, it’s easy to get lost in there. Thankfully, the 1600 cast iron lamps that dot the park serve double duty: They illuminate the park's winding paths, and they serve as old-school navigation tools.
On Sunday, Discovery Family Channel aired a show called “Secrets of America’s Favorite Places: Central Park,” that explains how it works. When architect Henry Bacon — who also happened to design the Lincoln Memorial — designed the lamps in 1907, he included a series of four numbers on each one. The first two or three numbers indicate the closest cross street. The final number tells you if you’re on the east or west side of Manhattan; an even number means you’re on the east side, and an odd number, the west.
By that logic, we can infer that the number on the post above — 8202 —
means that you are closest to 82nd Street, on the east side. If you
saw a lamp labeled with, let’s say, “1083,” you’d know that you’re near 108th
Street, on the west side. Easy, right? Now you can catch’em all without fear —
if your battery dies, you know how to get home.