Central Park's Strawberry Fields Will Make Beatles Fans Think They're In Heaven

Central Park in New York City is a collective reprieve for millions of residents. Two of those residents, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, frequently strolled through the park, spending afternoons away from the bustle of NYC and the world at large. At the time, John and Yoko lived in the Dakota building near the park's west entrance, per History. Outside of the Dakota, a street over from the peace and respite of Central Park, Lennon was shot in 1980.

Understandably, most widows probably would've shunned the location where such as violent act occurred. But instead of allowing December 8 to define the area, Yoko Ono soon began plans to memorialize Lennon's life and death at the west entrance of Central Park.

Giving peace a chance, Ono began collaborating with the Central Park Conservancy and the city. In 1985, Strawberry Fields was officially dedicated on the 45th anniversary of Lennon's death, per Central Park Conservancy. Today, when you walk into the west entrance of Central Park, between 71st and 74th street, Strawberry Fields welcomes Beatles fans (and others) to the peace that Lennon once admired of the area.

Imagine all the people

Per Central Park, Strawberry Fields is a tear-shaped, 2.5-acre area of the park that's designated as a quiet zone. The idea of the memorial began with an initial $1 million contribution given by Yoko Ono and Ono's efforts of collaboration. Soon after Lennon's death, Ono reached out to dignitaries and nations around the world asking for contributions toward the cost of the memorial.

As a conceptual artist herself, Ono envisioned a garden of peace as a suitable commemoration of the life of Lennon. According to Imagine Peace, she knew Lennon would not have wanted a statue of himself.

Today, a bronze plaque at the memorial lists over 120 countries that've contributed money, flowers, and more in dedication to the upkeep of the memorial. The iconic "Imagine" mosaic at the heart of Strawberry Fields was donated by the city of Naples, Italy, and the benches that surround the mosaic invite visitors to sit, reflect, and enjoy the area's peaceful atmosphere.

Livin' life in peace

Along with the formal "Imagine" mosaic, named after one of Lennon's most celebrated songs, Strawberry Fields also features tree- and shrub-lined walkways, a few small meadows, and a wooded area, as well as the rocks and plants donated by nations over the years. Walking tour are frequently held for visitors, many actually given by the Conservancy. 

According to the Central Park Conservancy, the goal of the landscaping was to incorporate Strawberry Fields into the rest of Central Park — a living and growing memorial that's part of (not separate from) the park. When you consider that the Dakota building visibly looms over Strawberry Fields, the memorial seems to not only invoke peace; but do so in the face of strife. This seems fitting, as Central Park, as a whole, offers this same sense of peace for so many who may need it — just as it did for Lennon when alive. 

Every year, vigils and celebrations are held on October 9th, Lennon's birthday, and on December 8th, the day of his death, at Strawberry Fields. While these two days may bookend the story of Lennon's life for Beatles fans and fans of peace, the real story is found within Lennon's song and the memorial's namesake, "Strawberry Fields Forever."