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Central Park

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Central Park Conservancy,
14 E. 60th St,
New York, NY,
10022

www.centralparknyc.org

Open all year

843 acres (341 ha) 1857

Central Park New York City MapCentral Park is a public pagreat lawn in Central Park New York Cityrk in the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park initially opened in 1857, on 843 acres (3.41 km2) of city-owned land. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan. Construction began the same year and was completed in 1873. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963, the park is currently managed by the Central Park Conservancy under contract with the city government. The Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that contributes 85% of Central Park's $37.4 million dollar annual budget, and employs 80% of the park's maintenance staff.

Central Park, which has been aboats lake in Central Park NYC National Historic Landmark since 1963, was designed by landscape designer and writer Frederick Law Olmsted and the English architect Calvert Vaux in 1858 after winning a design competition. They also designed Brooklyn's Prospect Park.
Central Park is bordered on the north by West 110th Street, on the south by West 59th Street, on the west by Eighth Avenue, along the park's borders, these streets are known as Central Park North, Central Park South, and Central Park West. Only Fifth Avenue along the park's eastern border retains its name.
Visitors The park, which receives approximately thirty-five million visitors annually, is the most visited urban park in the United States. It was opened on 770 acres (3.1 km2) of city-owned land and was expanded to 843 acres (3.41 km2; 1.317 sq mi). It is 2.5 miles (4 km) long between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West. It is similar in size to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Chicago's Lincoln Park, Vancouver's Stanley Park, and Munich's Englischer Garten.
MaintenanceThe park is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization that manages the park under a contract with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in which the president of the Conservancy is ex officio Administrator of Central Park.
Belvedere Castle Central ParkToday, 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 $37 million.
The system was functioning so well that in 2006 the conservancy created the Historic Harlem Parks initiative, providing horticultural and maintenance support and mentoring in Morningside Park, St. Nicholas Park, Jackie Robinson Park, and Marcus Garvey Park.Landscaping and facilitiesWhile foliage in much of the park appears natural, it is in fact almost entirely landscaped. The park contains several natural-looking lakes and ponds that have been created artificially, extensive walking tracks, bridle paths, two ice-skating rinks (one of which is a swimming pool in July and August), the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, a large area of natural woods, a 106-acre (43 ha) billion-gallon reservoir with an encircling running track, and an outdoor amphitheater, called the Delacorte Theater, which hosts the "Shakespeare in the Park" summer festivals. Indoor attractions include Belvedere Castle with its nature center, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the historic Carousel. In addition there are numerous major and minor grassy areas, some of which are used for informal or team sports, some are set aside as quiet areas, and there are a number of enclosed playgrounds for children.
The 6 miles (10 km) of drives within the park are used by joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters, especially on weekends and in the evenings after 7:00 p.m., when automobile traffic is prohibited.
The real estate value of Central Park was estimated by the property appraisal firm, Miller Samuel, to be $528,783,552,000 in December 2005.

History

Cplakehouse in Central Park New York CityCentral Park was not a part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811; however, between 1821 and 1855, New York City nearly quadrupled in population. As the city expanded, people were drawn to the few existing open spaces, mainly cemeteries, to get away from the noise and chaotic life in the city.
New York City's need for a great public park was voiced by the poet and editor of the Evening Post (now the New York Post), William Cullen Bryant, and by the first American landscape architect, Andrew Jackson Downing, who began to publicize the city's need for a public park in 1844. A stylish place for open-air driving, similar to the Bois de Boulogne in Paris or London's Hyde Park, was felt to be needed by many influential New Yorkers, and, after an abortive attempt in 1850-51 to designate Jones's Wood, in 1853 the New York legislature settled upon a 700-acre (280 ha) area from 59th to 106th Streets for the creation of the park, at a cost of more than US$5 million for the land alone.
The state appointed a Central Park Commission to oversee the development of the park, and in 1857 the commission held a landscape design contest. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux developed what came to be known as the "Greensward Plan," which was selected as the winning design.
According to Olmsted, the park was "of great importance as the first real Park made in this century—a democratic development of the highest significance…," a view probably inspired by his stay and various trips in Europe during 1850. He visited several parks during these trips and was particularly impressed by Birkenhead Park and Derby Arboretum in England.
Several influences came together in the design. Landscaped cemeteries, such as Mount Auburn (Cambridge, Massachusetts) and Green-Wood (Brooklyn, New York) had set examples of idyllic, naturalistic landscapes. The most influential innovations in the Central Park design were the "separate circulation" systems for pedestrians, horseback riders, and pleasure vehicles. The "crosstown" commercial traffic was entirely concealed in sunken roadways, (today called "transverses"), screened with densely-planted shrub belts so as to maintain a rustic ambience.
The Greensward plan called for some greywacke arch in Central Park New York City36 bridges, all designed by Vaux, ranging from rugged spans of Manhattan schist or granite, to lacy neo-gothic cast iron, no two are alike. The ensemble of the formal line of the Mall's doubled allées of elms culminating at Bethesda Terrace, whose centerpiece is the Bethesda Fountain, with a composed view beyond of lake and woodland, was at the heart of the larger design.
Before the construction of the park could start, the area had to be cleared of its inhabitants, most of whom were quite poor and either free African Americans or residents of English or Irish origin. Most of them lived in small villages, such as Seneca Village, Harsenville, or the Piggery District; or else in the school and convent at Mount St. Vincent's Academy. Around 1,600 residents occupying the area at the time, were evicted under the rule of eminent domain during 1857. Seneca Village and parts of the other communities were razed to make room for the park.
A map of Central Park from 1875During the construction of the park, Olmsted fought constant battles with the park commissioners, many of whom were appointees of the city's Democratic machine. In 1860, he was forced out for the first of many times as Central Park's superintendent, and Andrew Haswell Green, the former president of New York City's board of education took over as the chairman of the commission. Despite the fact that he had relatively little experience, he still managed to accelerate the construction, as well as to finalize the negotiations for the purchase of an additional 65 acres (260,000 m2) at the north end of the park, between 106th and 110th Streets, which would be used as the "rugged" part of the park, its swampy northeast corner dredged, and reconstructed as the Harlem Meer.
Lower Central ParkBetween 1860 and 1873, most of the major hurdles to construction were overcome, and the park was substantially completed. Construction combined the modern with the ageless: up-to-date steam-powered equipment and custom-designed wheeled tree moving machines augmented massive numbers of unskilled laborers wielding shovels. The work was extensively documented with technical drawings and photographs. During this period, more than 18,500 cubic yards (14,000 m³) of topsoil had been transported in from New Jersey, because the original soil was not fertile or substantial enough to sustain the various trees, shrubs, and plants called for by the Greensward Plan. When the park was officially completed in 1873, more than ten million cartloads of material had been transported out of the park, including soil and rocks. More than four million trees, shrubs and plants representing approximately 1,500 species were transplanted to the park.
More gunpowder was used to clear the area than was used at the battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War. Sheep grazed on the Sheep Meadow from the 1860s until 1934, when they were moved upstate as it was feared they would be used for food by impoverished Depression-era New Yorkers.
From 1864 to 1934 a flock of pedigree Southdown and Dorset sheep grazed in the Sheep Meadow. They were removed to Prospect Park in Brooklyn in 1934Following completion, the park quickly slipped into decline. One of the main reasons for this was the lack of interest of the Tammany Hall political machine, which was the largest political force in New York at the time.
Around the turn of the 20th century, the park faced several new challenges. Cars were becoming commonplace, bringing with them their burden of pollution, and people's attitudes were beginning to change. No longer were parks to be used only for walks and picnics in an idyllic environment, but now also for sports, and similar recreation. Following the dissolution of the Central Park Commission in 1870 and Andrew Green's departure from the project, and the death of Vaux in 1895, the maintenance effort gradually declined, and there were few, if any, attempts to replace dead trees, bushes and plants, or worn-out lawn. For several decades, authorities did little or notthe lake at Central Park NYChing to prevent vandalism and the littering of the park.
All of this changed in 1934, when Republican Fiorello La Guardia was elected mayor of New York City and unified the five park-related departments then in existence. Robert Moses was given the task of cleaning up the park. Moses, about to become one of the mightiest men in New York City, took over what was essentially, a relic, a leftover from a bygone era.
According to historian Robert Caro in his 1974 book The Power Broker:
Lawns, unseeded, were expanses of bare earth, decorated with scraggly patches of grass and weeds, that became dust holes in dry weather and mud holes in wet…. The once beautiful Mall looked like a scene of a wild party the morning after. Benches lay on their backs, their legs jabbing at the sky...
In a single year, Moses managed to clean up Central Park and other parks in New York City. Lawns and flowers were replanted, dead trees and bushes were replaced, walls were sandblasted, and bridges repaired. Major redesigning and construction also was carried out: for instance, the Croton Lower Reservoir was filled in so the Great Lawn could be created. The Greensward Plan's purpose of creating an idyllic landscape was combined with Moses' vision of a park to be used for recreational purposes—19 playgrounds, 12 ball fields, and handball courts were constructed. Moses also managed to secure funds from the New Deal program, as well as donations from the public.
Belvedere Castle, Central Park (built, 1869)The 1960s marked the beginning of an “Events Era” in Central Park that reflected the widespread cultural and political trends of the period. The Public Theater's annual Shakespeare in the Park festival was settled in the Delacorte Theater (1961), and summer performances were instituted on the Sheep Meadow, and then on the Great Lawn by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera. Increasingly through the 1970s, the park became a venue for events of unprecedented scale, including political rallies and demonstrations, festivals, and massive concerts.
New York City was experiencing economic and social upheaval. Residents were fleeing the city and moving to the suburbs. Morale was low, and crime was high. The Parks Department, suffering from budget cuts and a lack of skilled management that rendered its workforce virtually ineffective, responded by opening the park to any and all activities that would bring people into it—regardless of their impact and witturtle pond in Central Park NYChout adequate management, oversight, or maintenance follow-up. Some of these events became important milestones in the social history of the park and the cultural history of the city.
By the mid-1970s, New York’s fiscal and social malaise had contributed to severe managerial neglect. "Years of poor management and inadequate maintenance had turned a masterpiece of landscape architecture into a virtual dustbowl by day and a danger zone by night," said the conservancy president. Time had hastened the deterioration of its infrastructure and architecture, and ushered in an era of vandalism, territorial use (as when a pick-up game of softball or soccer commandeered open space to the exclusion of others), and illicit activities.

Central Park New York City Map

 
 
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