|Location||Manhattan in New York City, United States|
|Area||840.01 acres (339.94 ha) (3.399 km²)|
|Owned by||New York City Department of Parks and Recreation|
|Operated by||Central Park Conservancy|
|Visitors||about 37.5 million annually|
|Status||Open all year|
|Architect||Frederick Law Olmsted, Calvert Vaux|
|NRHP Reference #||66000538|
|Added to NRHP||October 15, 1966|
|Designated NHL||May 23, 1963|
Central Park is an urban park at the center of Manhattan in New York City. The park initially opened in 1857, on 778 acres (315 ha) of city-owned land (it is 840 acres today). 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, continued during the American Civil War, and was completed in 1873. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States.
Designated a National Historic Landmark in 1962, the park is currently managed by the Central Park Conservancy under contract with the city government. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization that contributes 83.5% of Central Park's $37.5 million annual budget, and employs 80.7% of the park's maintenance staff.
Central Park was not a part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811; however, between 1821 and 1855, New York City nearly quadrupled in population. Since it was not part of the Commissioners' Plan of 1811, John Randel, Jr., surveyed the park and the only remaining surveying bolt from his survey is still visible. The bolt is in a rock just north of the Dairy and the 65th Street Transverse and south of Center Drive. 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 country—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 ambiance.
The Greensward plan called for some 36 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.
Execution of the Greensward Plan was the responsibility of a number of individuals, including Jacob Wrey Mould (architect), Ignaz Anton Pilat (master gardener), George Waring (engineer), and Andrew Haswell Green (politician), in addition to Olmsted and Vaux.
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 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.
During 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.
Between 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.
Following 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 nothing 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.
- 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. Another dramatic change was Moses's removal of the "Hoover Valley" shantytown, whose site was transformed into the 30 acres (12 ha) Great Lawn. 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.
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. During the late 1960s the park became the venue for rallies and cultural events such as the "Love-Ins" and "Be-Ins" of the period. Increasingly through the 1970s, the park became a venue for events of unprecedented scale, including rallies, demonstrations, festivals and concerts.
In the summer of 1966, two-term mayor of New York (1966–73) John V. Lindsay, himself an avid cyclist, initiated a weekend ban on automobiles in Central Park for the enjoyment of cyclists and public alike – a policy that has stuck to this day.
Despite the increasing numbers of visitors to the park, Robert Moses' departure in 1960 had nevertheless marked the beginning of a twenty-year period of decline in its management. The city itself was also experiencing economic and social changes, with some residents fleeing the city and moving to the suburbs in the wake of increased crime. 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 without adequate management, oversight, or maintenance follow-up. Some of these events nevertheless became milestones in the social history of the park, and in the cultural history of the city.
By the mid-1970s, however, the park's severe managerial neglect was exacerbating the consequences of the city's broader problems. "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.
Several volunteer citizen groups had emerged, intent upon reclaiming the park by fund raising and organizing volunteer initiatives. One of these groups, the Central Park Community Fund, commissioned a study of the park’s management. The study's conclusion was bi-linear;
- It called for the establishment of a single position within the parks department, responsible for overseeing both the planning and management of Central Park and
- for a board of guardians to provide citizen oversight.
In 1979 Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis established the Office of Central Park Administrator, appointing to the position the executive director of another citizen organization, the Central Park Task Force. The Central Park Conservancy was founded the following year, to support the office and initiatives of the administrator and to provide consistent leadership through a self-perpetuating, citizen-based board that also would include as ex-officio trustees, the parks commissioner, Central Park Administrator, and mayoral appointees.
Under the leadership of the Central Park Conservancy, the park's reclamation began with modest, but highly significant first steps, addressing needs that could not be met within the existing structure and resources of the parks department. Interns were hired, and a small restoration staff to reconstruct and repair unique rustic features, undertaking horticultural projects, and removing graffiti under the broken windows premise. Currently, "Graffiti doesn't last 24 hours in the park," according to Conservancy president Douglas Blonsky.
By the early 1980s the Conservancy was engaged in design efforts and long-term restoration planning, using both its own staff and external consultants. It provided the impetus and leadership for several early restoration projects funded by the city, preparing a comprehensive plan for rebuilding the park. On completion of the planning stage in 1985, the conservancy launched its first "capital" campaign, assuming increasing responsibility for funding the park's restoration, and full responsibility for designing, bidding, and supervising all capital projects in the park.
The restoration was accompanied by a crucial restructuring of management, whereby the park was subdivided into zones, to each of which a supervisor was designated, responsible for maintaining restored areas. Citywide budget cuts in the early 1990s, however, resulted in attrition of the park's routine maintenance staff, and the conservancy began hiring staff to replace these workers. Management of the restored landscapes by the conservancy’s "zone gardeners" proved so successful that core maintenance and operations staff were reorganized in 1996. The zone-based system of management was implemented throughout the park, which was divided into forty-nine zones. Consequently, every zone of the park has a specific individual accountable for its day-to-day maintenance. Zone gardeners supervise volunteers assigned to them, (who commit to a consistent work schedule) and are supported by specialized crews in areas of maintenance requiring specific expertise or equipment, or more effectively conducted on a park-wide basis.
Central Park today
Central Park, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was designed by landscape architect 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 one of the most famous sightseeing spots in New York. It is bordered on the north by Central Park North, on the south by Central Park South, on the west by Central Park West, and on the east by Fifth Avenue. Only Fifth Avenue along the park's eastern border retains its name; the other streets bordering the park (110th Street, 59th Street, and Eighth Avenue, respectively) change names while they are adjacent to the park.
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. Its size and cultural position, similar to Munich's Englischer Garten and London's Hyde Park, has served as a model for many urban parks, including San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Tokyo's Ueno Park, and Vancouver's Stanley Park .
The 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.
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 $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 facilities
While planting and land form in much of the park appear 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, 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 seven major lawns, the "meadows", and many minor grassy areas; some of them are used for informal or team sports and some set aside as quiet areas; there are a number of enclosed playgrounds for children.
The six miles (10 km) of drives within the park are used by joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters, especially when automobile traffic is prohibited, on weekends and in the evenings after 7:00 pm.
As crime has declined in the park and in the rest of New York City, many former negative perceptions have waned. The park has its own New York City Police Department precinct (the Central Park Precinct), which employs both regular police and auxiliary officers. In 2005, safety measures held the number of crimes in the park to fewer than one hundred per year (down from approximately 1,000 in the early 1980s). The New York City Parks Enforcement Patrol also patrols Central Park.
- Birding: A wooded section of the park called "The Ramble" is popular among birders. Many species of woodland birds, especially warblers, may be seen in The Ramble in Spring and Fall.
- Boating: Rowboats and kayaks are rented on an hourly basis at the Loeb Boathouse, which also houses a restaurant overlooking the Lake. As early as 1922, model power boating was popular on park waters.
- Carriage horses: the carriage horse industry, revived in New York City in 1935, has been featured in various films; the first female carriage driver, Maggie Cogan, appeared in a newsreel in 1967. The ethics of this tradition and the effects on horse health and well being have been questioned by various animal rights activists.
- Pedicabs: Pedicabs operate mostly in the southern part of the park, the same part as horse carriages.
- Sports: Park Drive, just over 6 miles (9.7 km) long, is a haven for runners, joggers, bicyclists, and inline skaters. Most weekends, races take place in the park, many of which are organized by the New York Road Runners. The New York City Marathon finishes in Central Park outside Tavern on the Green. Many other professional races are run in the park, including the recent, (2008), USA Men's 8k Championships. Baseball fields are numerous, and there are also courts for volleyball, tennis, croquet and lawn bowling.
- Rock Climbing: Central Park's glaciated rock outcroppings attract climbers, especially boulderers; Manhattan's bedrock, a glaciated schist, protrudes from the ground frequently and considerably in some parts of Central Park. The two most renowned spots for boulderers are Rat Rock and Cat Rock; others include Dog Rock, Duck Rock, Rock N' Roll Rock, and Beaver Rock, near the south end of the park.
- Ice Skating: Central Park has two ice skating rinks, Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink, which converts to an outdoor swimming pool in summer.
- Central Park Carousel: the current carousel, installed in 1951, is one of the largest merry-go-rounds in the United States. The fifty-eight hand-carved horses and two chariots were made by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein in 1908. The carousel originally was installed in Coney Island in Brooklyn.
- Playgrounds: Central Park has twenty-one playgrounds for children located throughout the park, the largest, at 3 acres (12,000 m2), is Heckscher Playground named for August Heckscher.
- Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre: located in the Swedish Cottage. The building was originally a model schoolhouse built in Sweden. Made of native pine and cedar, it was disassembled and rebuilt in the U.S. as Sweden's exhibit for the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Frederick Law Olmsted moved the cottage to its present site in 1877.
- Central Park Zoo: The Central Park Zoo is one of four zoos, and one aquarium, managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The zoo is home to an indoor rainforest, a leafcutter ant colony, a chilled penguin house, and a Polar Bear pool.
- Each summer, the Public Theater presents free open-air theatre productions, often starring well-known stage and screen actors. The Delacorte Theater is the summer performing venue of the New York Shakespeare Festival. Most, although not all, of the plays presented are by William Shakespeare, and the performances are generally regarded as being of high quality since its founding by Joseph Papp in 1962.
- The New York Philharmonic gives an open-air concert every summer on the Great Lawn. From 1967 the Metropolitan Opera presented two operas in concert each year; this series was discontinued in 2007. Many concerts have been given in the park including Barbra Streisand, 1967; The Supremes, 1970; Carole King, 1973; Bob Marley & The Wailers, 1975; America, 1979; Elton John, 1980; the Simon and Garfunkel reunion, 1981; Diana Ross, 1983; Paul Simon, 1991; Garth Brooks, 1997; the Dave Matthews Band, 2003; Bon Jovi, 2008; and Andrea Bocelli, 2011. Since 1992, local singer-songwriter David Ippolito has performed almost every summer weekend to large crowds of passers-by and regulars and has become a New York icon, often simply referred to as "That guitar man from Central Park." In the summer of 1985, Bruce Springsteen planned to hold a free outdoor concert on the Great Lawn; however, the idea was scrapped when it was purported that any free show held by Springsteen would bring an estimated 1.3 million people, crippling the park and the nearby neighborhoods.
- Each summer, City Parks Foundation offers Central Park Summerstage, a series of free performances including music, dance, spoken word, and film presentations. SummerStage celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary in 2010. Throughout its history Summerstage has welcomed emerging artists and world renowned artists, including Celia Cruz, David Byrne, Curtis Mayfield, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars, and Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer winner Toni Morrison, Femi Kuti, Seun Kuti, Pulitzer winner Junot Diaz, Vampire Weekend, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Morphoses/The Wheeldon Company, and many more.
- With the revival of the city and the park in the new century, Central Park has given birth to arts groups dedicated to performing in the park, notably Central Park Brass, which performs an annual concert series and the New York Classical Theatre, which produces an annual series of plays.
Central Park was home to the famed New York City restaurant Tavern on the Green which was located on the park's grounds at Central Park West and West 67th Street. Tavern on the Green had its last seating on December 31, 2009 before closing its doors.
Central Park was home to the largest concert ever on record. Country Superstar Garth Brooks performed a free concert in August 1997. About 980,000 attended the event, according to the FDNY.
- Sculpture: A total of twenty-nine sculptures by sculptors such as Augustus Saint-Gaudens, John Quincy Adams Ward, and Emma Stebbins, have been erected over the years, most have been donated by individuals or organizations. Much of the first statuary placed was of authors and poets, in an area now known as Literary Walk. Some of the sculptures are:
- "Angel of the Waters" at Bethesda Terrace by Emma Stebbins (1873), was the first large public sculpture commission for an American woman
- Balto: a 1925 statue of the sled dog who became famous during the 1925 serum run to Nome
- King Jagiello bronze monument on the east end of Turtle Pond
- Alice in Wonderland
- Duke Ellington: created by sculptor Robert Graham was dedicated in 1997 near Fifth Avenue and 110th Street, in the Duke Ellington Circle
- Cleopatra's Needle; is a red granite obelisk. The "Cleopatra's Needle" in Central Park is one of three; there also is one in Paris and one in London, which is one of a pair with the New York obelisk. Each obelisk is approximately 68–69 feet tall and weigh about 180 tons. They originally were erected at the Temple of Ra, in Heliopolis, in Ancient Egypt around 1450 B.C. by pharaoh Thutmose III. The hieroglyphs were inscribed about two hundred years later by pharaoh Rameses II to glorify his military victories. The obelisks were all moved during the reign of Roman emperor Augustus Caesar when Ancient Egypt was under the control of Rome. They were brought to Alexandria and erected as tribute to Julius Caesar, in front of the Caesarium, a temple originally built by Cleopatra VII of Egypt in honor of Mark Antony, thus the name "Cleopatra's Needle.
There are two versions of how the Central Park Cleopatra's Needle made its way to Central Park: either it was a gift from the Khedive of Egypt, Isma'il Pasha, or it was stolen through the machinations of William H. Vanderbilt who paid the tab to have the obelisk shipped to New York and erected. The obelisk arrived in New York in July 1880; it took thirty-two horses hitched in sixteen pairs to pull the obelisk to the park. It was erected in an official ceremony on January 22, 1881.
- Strawberry Fields: On October 9, 1985, on what would have been John Lennon's 45th birthday, New York City dedicated 2.5 acres to his memory. Countries from all around the world contributed trees, and Italy donated the iconic Imagine mosiac. It has since become the sight of impromptu memorial gatherings for other notables and, in the days following the September 11, 2001 attacks, candlelight vigils were held there.
- The Gates: For sixteen days in 2005 (February 12–27), Central Park was the setting for Christo and Jeanne-Claude's installation The Gates. Although the project was the subject of very mixed reactions (and it took many years for Christo and Jeanne-Claude to get the necessary approvals), it was nevertheless a major, if temporary, draw for the park.
There are four different types of bedrock in Manhattan. In Central Park, Manhattan schist and Hartland schist, which are both metamorphosed sedimentary rock, are exposed in various outcroppings. The other two types, Fordham gneiss (an older deeper layer) and Inwood marble (metamorphosed limestone which overlays the gneiss), do not surface in the park.
Fordham gneiss, which consists of metamorphosed igneous rocks, was formed a billion years ago, during what is known as the Grenville orogeny that occurred during the creation of an ancient super-continent. It is the oldest rock in the Canadian Shield, the most ancient part of the North American tectonic plate.
Manhattan schist and Hartland schist were formed in the Iapetus Ocean during the Taconic orogeny in the Paleozoic era, about 450 million years ago. During this period the tectonic plates began to move toward each other, which resulted in the creation of the supercontinent, Pangaea.
Various glaciers have covered the area of Central Park in the past, with the most recent being the Wisconsin glacier which receded about 12,000 years ago. Evidence of past glaciers are visible throughout the park in the form of glacial erratics (large boulders dropped by the receding glacier) and north-south glacial striations visible on stone outcroppings.
Central Park, home to over 25,000 trees, has a stand of 1,700 American Elms, one of the largest remaining stands in the northeastern U.S., protected by their isolation from Dutch Elm Disease which devastated the tree throughout its native range.
A partial listing of the tree species found in Central Park, both natives and exotics:
- The first official list of birds observed in Central Park was drawn up by Augustus G. Paine, Jr.. Paine was an avid hobby ornithologist and, together with his friend Lewis B. Woodruff, drew up a list of birds counting 235 species. This was regarded as the first official list and was published in Forest and Stream on June 10, 1886.
- The park is frequented by various migratory species of birds during their Spring and Fall migration on the Atlantic Flyway. Over a quarter of all the bird species found in the United States have been seen in Central Park. One of these species is the Red-tailed hawk, which re-established a presence in the park when a male hawk known as Pale Male for his light coloration, nested on a building on Fifth Avenue, across the street from the park.[when?] He became a local media celebrity and a prolific breeder.
- Central Park was the site of the misguided unleashing of European starlings in North America, a native of Eurasia which has become an invasive species. In April, 1890, eighty birds were released by Eugene Schieffelin, and the following March another eighty; these one hundred and sixty birds are the progenitors of the flocks which now span the United States and parts of Canada.
- Raccoon (Procyon lotor): nocturnal tree dwellers that come down to ground level to feed at night, have become extremely common in Central Park in recent years, prompting the Parks Department to post rabies warnings around certain areas.
- Eastern gray squirrel, or grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis), is a tree squirrel in the genus Sciurus native to the eastern and midwestern United States.
- Eastern Chipmunk (Tamias striatus): although not commonly sighted, there are chipmunks in Central Park.
- Virginia Opossum (Didelphis virginiana): a nocturnal marsupial that rests in trees during the day and searches for food on the ground at night.
- Arthropods: In 2002 a new genus and species of centipede (Nannarrup hoffmani) was discovered in Central Park. At about 0.4 inches (10 mm) long, it is one of the smallest centipedes in the world.
Central Park is surrounded by four roadways: Central Park North, Central Park South, Central Park West, and Fifth Avenue. There are four plazas on each corner of the park: Frederick Douglass Circle on the northwest, Duke Ellington Circle on the northeast, Columbus Circle at the southwest, and Grand Army Plaza at the southeast. There are also four transverse roadways: 65th–66th Streets, 79th–81st Streets, 86th Street, and 96th Street. The park has three roadways that travel it vertically: West Drive, Center Drive, and East Drive.
The Central Park Medical Unit is an all-volunteer ambulance service that provides free emergency medical service to patrons of Central Park and the surrounding streets. It operates a rapid-response bicycle patrol, particularly during major events such as the New York City Marathon, the 1998 Goodwill Games, and concerts in the park.
Central Park constitutes its own United States census tract, number 143. According to Census 2000, the park's population is eighteen people, twelve male and six female, with a median age of 38.5 years, and a household size of 2.33, over 3 households. However Central Park officials have rejected the claim of anyone permanently living there. 
Central Park is the most filmed location in the world.
The Lake and San Remo apartments in the background
The Pond, looking south, with the Plaza Hotel in view
One of the park's bridges; no two are alike.
Bridge in Central Park, designed by Calvert Vaux, separates pedestrians from the carriage drive.
Central Park viewed from atop the GE Building
The Pond and Central Park South
Bethesda Fountain with the Loeb Boathouse in background
Jogging in Central Park
- "World's Most-Visited Tourist Attractions". Travel + Leisure by various contributors. October 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "No. 2 Central Park, New York City". Travel + Leisure. October 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-13.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23.
- About the Central Park Conservancy, Central Park Conservancy. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
- John Emerson Todd, Frederick Law Olmsted (Boston: Twayne Publishers: Twayne’s World Leader Series) 1982:73; see the history of Green-Wood Cemetery.
- Olmsted letter to Parke Godwin August 1, 1858. See Empire City The Making and Meaning of the New York City Landscape http://www.temple.edu/tempress/titles/714_reg.html
- Peter H. Rossi, Down and Out in America: The Origins of Homelessness, University of Chicago Press, 1989, ISBN 0-226-72828-5. Rossi states that part of the impetus to schemes such as Central Park and others was to remove the eyesore of shanty towns.
- Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar, The Park and the People: a history of Central Park, 1992:150.
- pbs.org – New York: A Documentary Film
- Stern, Robert A.M.; Gregory Gilmartin, Thomas Mellins (1987). New York 1930. Rizzoli New York. p. 710. ISBN 978-0-8478-3096-1.
- A pioneer of urban cycling Jim's Bike Blog - Retrieved 2012-06-22.
- "The History of Central Park". Centralparknyc.org. August 18, 2009. Retrieved 2012-12-20.
- Blonsky, Douglas. "Saving the Park: a key to NYC's revival". The New York Post, November 3, 2007 Op-Ed page.
- Blonsky 2007 op. cit.
- In 2007 3000 volunteers outnumbered under 250 workers over 12-to-1 (Blonsky 2007, op.cit.)
- Lisa W. Foderaro (October 23, 2012). "A $100 Million Thank-You for a Lifetime’s Central Park Memories". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-10-23.
- "Central Park". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. September 10, 2007.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory". National Park Service. August 14, 1975.
- "National Register of Historic Places Inventory". National Park Service. August 14, 1975.
- "Central Park FAQ".
- "America's Most Visited City Parks" (PDF). The Trust for Public Land. June 2006. Archived from the original on 2006-07-25. Retrieved July 11, 2006.
- Blonsky 2007, op.cit..
- All the present bodies of water in the park have been created by damming natural seeps and flows.
- John Steele Gordon "My Backyard," American Heritage, April/May 2006.
- "Restoring a meadow to grandeur: Conservancy marks milestone in Central Park", September 2011
- Tradition or Cruelty?, Jessica Bennett, Newsweek, September 25, 2007; Retrieved 2008-08-23
- Chris Hicks (April 16, 1996). "Jupiter's Wife". Deseret News (Salt Lake City).
- Bill Could Halt New York Carriage Horses, Keith B. Richburg, The Washington Post, December 17, 2007; Retrieved 2008-08-23
- Another Horse Down in Central Park, Blog of the ASPCA, September 17, 2007; Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- PETA Fact Sheet on Horse Carriage; Retrieved 2008-08-23
- Home on the Asphalt, Lloyd Grove, New York Magazine, March 16, 2008; Retrieved 2008-08-23
- Carriage Horse Industry At A Crossroads, Kristin Cole, CBS News, November 5, 2007; Retrieved 2008-08-23.
- Horse Pucky, Editorial of The New York Sun, November 30, 2007; Retrieved 2008-08-23
- Film Highlights Suffering of NYC Carriage Horses, Humane Society of the United States, April 24, 2008
- Christopher S. Wren, "A Summit in Central Park; Boulder Gives Climbers a Taste of the Mountain", The New York Times, July 21, 1999. Retrieved 2007-10-08.
- For the Bon Jovi concert, July 12, 2008, 60,000 free tickets were distributed by the city; a large section of Central Park was closed to the non-ticketed public.
- Official Garth Brooks website: "In May of 1998, the Fire Department of the City of New York officially announced the final attendee numbers at 980,000." (Retrieved 2010-02-14).
- Frank Leslie's New York journal, Volumes 1-2 p. 292
- February 25, 2005 CNN story about Christo and Jeanne-Claude's The Gates Central Park's 'Gates' to close
- City at the water's edge: a natural history of New York By Betsy McCully p. 6
- Deformational History of Manhattan Rocks and Its Relationship with the State of In-situ Stress in New York City, New York 
- Geology of Central Park – From Rocks to Ice by Charles Merguerian, Mickey Merguerian 
- "List of birds of Central Park". Forest and Stream (New York: The Forest and Stream Publishing Company) XXVI (20): 386–387. June 10, 1886.
- Eugene Kinkead (August 26, 1974). "The Birds of Central Park". The New Yorker (New York) XXVI (20): 78.
- "Profile of General Demographic Characteristics: 2000". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 2006-07-11.
- "Census Apparently Did Check Behind Every Tree".
- "Films Shot in Central Park".
- Henry Hope Reed, Robert M. McGee and Esther Mipaas. The Bridges of Central Park. (Greensward Foundation) 1990.
Further reading and viewing
- Kelly, Bruce, Gail T. Guillet, and Mary Ellen W. Hern. Art of the Olmsted Landscape. New York: City Landmarks Preservation Commission: Arts Publisher, 1981. ISBN 0-941302-00-8.
- Kinkead, Eugene. Central Park, 1857-1995: The Birth, Decline, and Renewal of a National Treasure. New York: Norton, 1990. ISBN 0-393-02531-4.
- Miller, Sara Cedar. Central Park, An American Masterpiece: A Comprehensive History of the Nation's First Urban Park. New York: Abrams, 2003. ISBN 0-8109-3946-0.
- Rosenzweig, Roy, and Elizabeth Blackmar. The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992. ISBN 0-8014-9751-5.
- Swerdlow, Joel L. Central Park - Oasis in the city. National Geographic Magazine May 1993
- Taylor, Dorceta E. The Environment and the People in American Cities, 1600s-1900s: Disorder, Inequality, and Social Change (Duke University Press, 2009), section 3; ISBN 978-0-8223-4451-3.
- Voorsanger, Catherine Hoover, & Howat, John K., eds. (2000). Art and the empire city: New York, 1825-1861. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art. ISBN 9780870999574.
- Wiseman, Frederick (director) (1990). Central Park (motion picture).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Central Park.|
- Official websites
- Central Park: NYC Parks
- NYC Department of Parks & Recreation
- Central Park Conservancy
- Central Park Police Precinct
- Additional information
- Central Park in New York
- CentralPark.org: The comprehensive guide to New York's Central Park
- CentralPark.com: The complete guide to Central Park
- CentralParkHistory.com: The complete history of Central Park
- Forgotten-NY: Secrets of Central Park
- National Historic Landmarks Program: Central Park
- Lot83.com: Central Park Reservoir Project
- Elisabeth Barlow Rogers: The Central Park Story. Management and Restoration for a New Era of Public Use