Central Park. Urban Park in New York City, New York

Central Park

Urban Park in New York City, New York

Central Park ice rink Photo © Maciek Lulko

Central Park

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Central Park - Central Park
Central Park - Central Park. Photo by Rick Harris
Central Park is an enormous urban park in Manhattan, a borough of New York City. It is a masterpiece of urban and landscape architecture, designed in 1858 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Central Park is bordered by Central Park North, Central Park West, Central Park South, and Fifth Avenue. Only Fifth Avenue keeps its name when it runs along the park’s border; the other three streets (110th Street, Eighth Avenue, and 59th Street respectively) change their names when they run along the park.

Central Park is 2.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide. The surface area is 1.3 square miles. It is crisscrossed by walking paths, roads, and cycling lanes and it takes at least a full day to see most of it. Central Park is similar in size and location to Englischer Garten (Wikipedia Article) in Munich and Hyde Park in London. Since its opening, the park has been a model for several other urban parks all over the world, such as Stanley Park in Vancouver, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, and Ueno Park in Tokyo.

Although it looks natural, the entire park has been landscaped. There are many lakes and ponds, walking tracks, ice-skating rinks, a zoo, sculptures, statues, theaters, playgrounds, and so on. Central Park is home to more than 25,000 trees and birds such as ducks, starlings, and Red-Tailed Hawks. Mammals living in the park include raccoons, squirrels, opossums, and chipmunks.

Central Park has been a National Historic Landmark in the United States since 1962 and became New York City’s first scenic landmark in 1974. It was the first public park in the country and has now become probably the most famous urban park in the world.

New York Oct '08 302 
	Central Park from the Top of The Rock - Central Park
New York Oct '08 302 Central Park from the Top of The Rock. Photo by Total due

History

Central Park foliage
	photo-walk, Nov 2009 - 10 - Central Park
Central Park foliage photo-walk, Nov 2009 - 10 - Central Park. Photo by Ed Yourdon
In 1853, more than 750 acres of land were set aside in central Manhattan to create the first large landscaped urban park in America. Because of its central location, it quickly got the name ‘Central Park’. It was decided to create such a park because they believed that green open spaces would improve the formation of an urban society and improve public health. A design competition was organized in 1858 and won by the landscape designer, Olmsted, and the architect, Vaux. During construction, more land was added and the park’s covered 843 acres. After its opening, the park became an instant success, resulting in an urban park movement in the rest of the United States.

However, the park was in serious decline by the beginning of the 20th century, due to political, economic, and social circumstances. The invention and growing popularity of the car played a big role, as did the Great Depression. Robert Moses was the park commissioner from 1934 until 1960 and he managed to restore eroded landscapes and crumbling sculptures, which improved the park’s status. He also built 12 ball fields and 19 playgrounds, turning the park into a place for recreation. After he left, the park went into decline once again, this time even more severely. Playgrounds, benches, and lights became broken; lawns turned into dust; and garbage and graffiti could be found and seen all over the place. It became a hub for crime, drug abuse, and other illegal activities.

The park found its third breath after the establishment of the Office of Central Park Administrator in 1979 and the founding of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980. A master-plan for restoration was created, which succeeded, and the way the park was managed was completely turned around. Nowadays, the park is definitely more beautiful and well-managed than it’s ever been.

Looking Out Over Central
	Park - Central Park
Looking Out Over Central Park. Photo by Baron Reznik

Things to See and Do

There are countless things to do in Central Park. The list starts, but doesn't stop, with boating, walking, picnicking, bird watching, playing sports, and ice skating. Visitors can go on rides in horse-drawn carriages, rent bikes, and or visit the Central Park Zoo. In summer, the park is the setting for several theater performances, as well as concerts.

Strolling through the park is probably the most popular thing to do. Several lakes, ponds, waterfalls, and gardens make up a varied landscape. The Bow Bridge (Wikipedia Article) has been featured in many romantic movies, while the Great Lawn is a popular place to picnic and play sports. In addition, the park is dotted with sculptures. Examples are Alice in Wonderland, Balto, and the John Lennon Statue.

Arguably, the biggest attraction in Central Park is the fabulous Metropolitan Museum of Art, located in the east of the park on Fifth Avenue. The enormous art museum keeps visitors occupied for hours, if not a whole day.

Nearby Landmarks

Central Park is unique in the sense that it is the most visited urban park in the United States – around 40 million people visited the park each year. New York City is home to several other major landmarks, such as the Brooklyn Bridge, Times Square, One World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center, among many others.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Nov 05, 2014

Pictures of Central Park

Central Park in October - Central Park
Central Park in October - Photo by Thomas Gehrke

central park - Central Park
central park - Photo by Ralph Hockens

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