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Duped 'Friends' Fans Flock to Fountain Which Has Nothing to Do With Show

By Amy Zimmer | June 27, 2012 7:12am

CENTRAL PARK — Tourists come to Cherry Hill in droves — on foot, in pedicabs, horse-drawn carriages and by bicycle — to snap photos at one of Central Park's most popular vistas.

But, thanks to rampant urban legends spread by tour guides and pedicab drivers, what they're visiting isn't what they think it is.

Thousands of visitors mistakenly think by frolicking at the footbase of the Central Park fountain, they're dancing in the footsteps of TV favorite "Friends," park officials said.

"I hear it all the time... Pedicabs and carriages love to come here and stop and take pictures," said a Central Park Conservancy spokeswoman who stood near the fountain as it celebrated its grand opening Tuesday following a $1.7 million renovation with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The Friends fountain, which is not in Central Park.
The Friends fountain, which is not in Central Park.
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"You'll always hear pedicab [guides] say this is the fountain in the opening credits from 'Friends.'

"It's not."

As if on cue, a walking tour guide marched his five followers past the elegant Cherry Hill fountain near the 72nd Street footpath, and declared, "This is the fountain from 'Friends.'"

In fact, Rachel, Chandler, Monica, Joey and Ross' famous fountain dance in the opening sequence for the hit 1990s television show was filmed at a Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles, according to IMDB.com.

The gang frolicked and splashed around to the Rembrandt's "I'll Be There for You"  during a 4 a.m. shoot with water kept heated through a pump, IMDB.com wrote.

The Cherry Hill Park fountain was designed in 1860 as a watering trough for carriage horses when the concourse was the spot to park the drawn buggies.

The Central Park Conservancy restored the space to look more like it did then, getting rid of the red brick and non-American Disability Act friendly paths that were created in the 1980s.

"Over the years, cars became a big part of the park," Conservancy President and CEO Doug Blonsky said, noting that the fountain had once been covered in graffiti.

"What you are looking at today is very similar to its historic [appearance]," he added.

The changes, simplifying the path around the fountain — made of permeable material for good drainage — and another one for pedestrians along the lake view made from recycling materials of the previous walkway is more in line with park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original vision for the space.

The renovation was not without controversy.  Some criticized the plans as still looking like a parking lot.  Preservation groups blasted it for being wasteful and unnecessary.

"A lot of people said 'the brick was fine. Why do you have to change it?'" Blonsky recounted, noting that the space wasn't accessible under ADA rules and that it wasn't historically appropriate.  

Blonsky also said many of the bricks were in disrepair. Benches and greenery were added as well.

The Conservancy spent five years restoring the lake and its surroundings, with Cherry Hill's renovation the final phase.

Nestled just west of the iconic Bethesda Terrace, Cherry Hill now fits into the park's surroundings more seamlessly, officials noted.

"It's kind of the quiet Bethesda fountain," Blonsky said of the newly done spot. "It's a bit more low-key."

Maria Teresa Di Cosimo, 28, in New York from Italy on her honeymoon, posed in front of the Cherry Hill fountain for her husband.

"It seems Victorian in style," she said. "I think it's strange because New York is so modern and Central Parks is a miscellany of different styles. I like it so much."