Today, Central Park in New York is considered one of the most famous and largest parks globally. It is located in the center of Manhattan and covers a total area of ??3.4 square kilometers. Approximately 40 million visitors come here every year, making it the most popular park in all of America. New York hotels are conveniently located nearby so that you can combine pleasant walks and relaxation.
The park is located on Manhattan Island between 59th and 110th Streets and Fifth and Eighth Avenues and thus has a rectangular shape. The park’s length is 4 kilometers, the width is 800 meters, and the total area is 3.4 km2. With an estimated 25 million visitors a year, the park is the most visited in the US and has been featured in many films and television shows, and has made the park one of the most famous in the world.
The park is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, a private, non-profit organization that manages the park under contract to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
The park is entirely man-made, although it looks like a natural one. The park contains several natural-looking lakes and reservoirs that have been artificially created, extensive walking trails, two ice skating rinks (one of which is a swimming pool in July and August), Central Park Zoo, Central Park Gardens, a wildlife sanctuary, a large area natural forests, Teatro Delacorte, which hosts summer festivals. Landmarks of Central Park are Belvedere Castle, the Swedish Cottage Puppet Theater, and the historic Carousel. In addition, there are seven main lawns and many playgrounds for children. Let’s find out how it was created.
Central Park: Creation Idea
From 1820 to 1850, the population of New York quadrupled. At that time, having become the most important financial and industrial center of the country, the urban population needed public places of recreation. The city limits were limited to modern 39th Street. In the mid-fifties of the nineteenth century, the authorities allocated a huge area of ??wetland that lay outside the city limits and was inhabited mainly by farmers. By the way, Harlem, which borders the park in the north, was then a different city and had an utterly indirect relation to New York.
In 1857, a competition was held, which was won by two architects – an American *Frederick Olmsted* and an Englishman *Calvert Vaux*, who were educated and practiced in Europe (at that time, there was not a single school specializing in landscape and park design in the USA).
Their project was based on the idea of ??creating a park in the English style, with a lot of winding paths, gardens, hills, and ponds. This differed, for example, from the classical French style with a spacious central promenade and an abundance of fountains and flower beds, which was more suitable for a park at the palace. However, there was something more that the authors tried to express behind this project by creating this park.
By the middle of the 19th century, New York became a major world center with a strengthened middle and upper classes and no less numerous poor people and workers. Otherworld capitals, such as London and Paris, had parks where all citizens could spend their leisure time without exception. Unlike New York. At that time, only a limited circle of people had access to the few parks and gardens of the city – wealthy citizens, members of clubs, and business owners. This social injustice worried both the architects and the city government, which allocated money to construct the park.
As conceived by the architects, Central Park should become the embodiment of democratic principles and freedoms*, for which the country has fought for many years. Social equality – this was the motto and the main idea when designing the park. This, in particular, is expressed in the joint parallel (rather than separate) passage of pedestrian roads, occupied mainly by the poor, and roads for horse-drawn carriages of wealthy citizens. *Central Mall* – the only direct alley leading to the heart of the park *Bethesda terrace*, a wide pedestrian area with benches and places for street performances – was also supposed to be a place for people of different classes to mix.
If you pay attention to the entrances to the park, then each of them has been given a separate name. The architects chose to name the entrance groups after great people, military battles, and states. Still, they opted for the professions of ordinary people, thus paying tribute to the people who participated in the construction of the park.
But the park is not only a work of landscape design. This is also a breakthrough in modern engineering, which should have been embodied here. First of all, these are four roads, which initially, according to the project, crossed the park from east to west, but below the main level of the park, i.e., without creating not only interference with vacationers but also not betraying their presence at all, blocked by an abundance of bushes. The system of tunnels and bridges, designed in the middle of the 19th century, is still working almost unchanged.
Another engineering marvel that was first applied in New York and implemented in Bethesda terrace is the separation of pedestrian and vehicle flows at different levels. The city at that time was full of various modes of transport – first of all, horse-drawn carriages, and there were no underground or overhead passages and traffic lights then. The first structure appeared in the central park, which helped to separate the human and traffic flows.
After announcing the winners of the competition in 1857, its direct construction began, which continued until 1873. During this time, more than 14 thousand cubic meters of fertile land were brought to the territory of the park measuring 2.5 by 0.5 miles (4 by 0.8 kilometers), more than 4 million plants of 1400 species were planted, alleys, gardens, an artificial rectangular reservoir were organized ( which was subsequently dried up and is now in its place *Great Lawn*), playgrounds, a carousel, a boat station, 2 ice skating grounds and more. For the first time since the formation of the United States, all this was available to absolutely all residents of the city.
Initially, there was only one statue in the park – this is *Angel of the waters*. However, gradually the people who inhabited the city at that time began to give the park statues of the most prominent representatives of the art of their countries. So the statues of Beethoven, Scott, Shakespeare, and others appeared in the park. And it also became a manifestation of democratic signs on the one hand and showed the national diversity of New York. At the same time, the park was replenished with statues of national heroes of the civil war.Statui v TSentralnom parke 500×337 Central Park.
Between 1860 and 1873, the park’s construction was considerably delayed, and most of the basic ideas had to be revised. More than 14,000 m3 of fertile land was imported from New Jersey, as the local land was not suitable for many of the trees, shrubs, and other plants envisaged by the original plan. When the park was officially completed in 1873, over 10 million cartloads of material, including earth and stone, were dug up and removed from the site. Also included were over 4 million trees, shrubs, and other plants representing approximately 1,500 species.
Shortly after opening, the park began to fall into disrepair. One of the main reasons for this was the infamous political machine known as Tammany Hall, the biggest political force in New York. And it was also connected both with the appearance of the car as a new means of transportation and with the death of one of the creators of the Vox park in 1895, who, until the end of his life, followed his condition. The city stopped allocating money to maintain the park; there was no one to replace old trees and bushes and look after lawns and playgrounds; the police stopped patrolling the territory, and the crime rate in the park increased over time.
The situation changed when Fiorello La Guardia became mayor of the city in 1934 and appointed *Robert Moses* to the post of the park manager. Under Moses, the park gained a new life while slightly changing the concept. Since the mid-1930s, the park has become not just a place for walking but also a place for active recreation for citizens. * Sports grounds * (for playing baseball, handball, football), basketball, and tennis courts are being built, and the Croton reservoir is drained (the same one on the site of the modern Great Lawn).
In the 60s, after the departure of Moses, the park again loses the attention of the authorities and the corresponding funding. At this time, the park is used primarily for meetings, concerts, demonstrations, and folk festivals. Due to lack of funding, the police patrol the park less and less, graffiti appears, there is no one to clean up the garbage, crime, prostitution, and drug trafficking are growing again. All this reaches its peak in the 70s.
By 1975, several advocacy groups joined forces to develop new ideas for the park. As a result, in 1980, the Committee for Nature Protection was formed.
When the Committee began work, the founders decided not to create a new organization with specially hired workers, which would lead to high costs. Instead, they chose to focus their attention on recruiting volunteers for most of the work, as this would help encourage city residents to take better care of the park and create the impression that the park is one of the integral parts of New York.
The Committee began to interact with the Park Commissioner, and committed to the restoration and improvement of the park, publishing a document in 1981 entitled “Renovation of Central Park for the 80s and beyond.” The document was presented as a master plan for the further development of the park and described the actions to restore the park to its former glory.
The document included three key tasks necessary for future survival. The architectural heritage had to be restored – the landscape and the environment and bridges, buildings, and other structures that had fallen victim to neglect for 20 years. In addition, the document called for significant replanting of all grass and constant care for each section of the park, and the creation of programs to improve safety in the park, especially at night, and thereby attract new visitors.
The park was almost wholly brought into proper condition during the organization’s work. The work of sports and children’s playgrounds has been organized again, new trees, flowers, and lawns have been planted, bridges and structures have been restored, and police supervision has been established. The main idea was to attract volunteers who were ready to work for the benefit of the park for some time, free of charge. Today, the organization provides over 80 percent of the park’s $40 million budget and manages about 80 percent of the staff.
Over the years, many buildings have been restored, and many hours have been spent restoring the park. In 2004 alone, volunteers spent more than 32,000 hours restoring the Heckscher playground, several lawns, and stone rises.
Today, Central Park is one of the most visited places in New York, with over 25 million visitors a year. It is an urban park located between 59th and 110th streets and 5th and 8th avenues, almost twice the size of the Principality of Monaco, with more than 80 kilometers of walking and 10 kilometers of jogging paths, 36 uniquely designed stone and cast-iron bridges, several open-air theatres, a tennis center, many accessible outdoor sports facilities and much more. And this must be not only a tourist attraction but also a favorite vacation spot for New Yorkers themselves.