CENTRAL PARK NEW YORK

Central Park is one of those places that make New York such a great place to live. The huge park, 843 acres large (341 ha), is located in the center of Manhattan. Its design is an example for city parks around the world.

The park boasts several lakes, theaters, ice rinks, fountains, tennis courts, baseball fields, many playgrounds and other facilities. It is also home to the Central Park Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Especially during the weekends, when cars are not allowed into the park, Central Park is a welcome oasis in this hectic city.

 

Conception

When the terrain for the Central Park was bought by the City of New York in 1853, it was faraway from civilization, somewhere between the City of New York and the village Harlem. The area contained sheds from colonists, quarries, pig farms and swamps.

In 1857, the city of New York organized a competition for the design of this new park, which had to rival with the great parks in London and Paris. A design by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, named ‘the Greensward Plan’ was chosen.

This plan featured an English style landscape with large meadows, several lakes and hills.

 

Balto Statue

Winding pedestrian roads were separated from main roads and the huge number of trees ensured the city’s buildings were not visible from within the park.

 

Creation

To convert the swampy area into the park the designers had envisioned, several hundred thousand trees were planted, more than 3 million cubic yards of soil was moved, roads and bridges were constructed and a large reservoir was dug out. It took more than 15 years before the 20,000 workers had completed the park.

 

The Lake

Central Park immediately became a popular place for all New Yorkers, attracting millions of visitors each year.

 

From Relaxation to Recreation

Frederic Law Olmstead’s goal was to create a place where people could relax and meditate. He saw the park as a kind of social experiment where people from both upper and lower classes would meet, a rather revolutionary idea at that time.
After the appointment of Robert Moses in 1934 as New York City Parks Commissioner, the focus of the park shifted from relaxation to recreation. During moses’s 26 year tenure he constructed many sports facilities, playgrounds and the Wollman rink.

Small bridge at The Pond

He also renovated the Zoo, and installed several sculptures including ‘Alice in Wonderland ‘.

 

Decline and renovation

After the departure of Moses in 1960, Central park started to decline. Graffiti, garbage and criminality kept both citizens and tourists from visiting the park. In the 1970s the park became a symbol of New York City’s decline.

The tide started to turn in 1980 when a group of citizens created the Central Park Conservancy. Together with the city, it started a 50 million dollar renovation project. Several parts of the park, including the

Belvedere Castle

Sheep Meadow and Bethesda Terrace were restored. Three employees were hired to remove the graffiti – it took them three years to complete this task. The criminality was reduced by a large police force.

Thanks to these efforts by both the city and private groups, the Central park is now a relatively clean and safe place, visited by more than 20 million people each year.

 

Location

Central Park is situated in Manhattan between 59th and 110th street and between Fifth and Eight Ave.

Today, the conservancy employs four out of five maintenance and operations staff in the park. It effectively oversees the work of both the private and public employees under the authority of the Central Park administrator, (publicly appointed), who reports to the parks commissioner, conservancy’s president. As of 2007, the conservancy had invested approximately $450 million in the restoration and management of the park; the organization presently contributes approximately 85% of Central Park’s annual operating budget of over $25 million.

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~ by ferry1984 on July 2, 2011.

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