Central Park

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Central Park
Southwest corner of Central Park, looking east, NYC.jpg
USA New York City location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location within New York City
Type Urban park
Location Manhattan in New York City, United States
Area 843 acres (3.41 km2)[1]
Created 1857
Owned by New York City Department of Parks and Recreation
Operated by Central Park Conservancy
Visitors about 37.5 million annually[2][3]
Status Open all year
Architect Frederick Law Olmsted, (1822-1903), Calvert Vaux, (1824-1895)
NRHP Reference # 66000538
Significant dates
Added to NRHP October 15, 1966[4]
Designated NHL May 23, 1963

Central Park is an urban park in the central New York City borough of Manhattan. It was initially opened in 1857, on 778 acres (315 ha) of city-owned land (it is 843 acres (341 ha) today[5]). In 1858, soon-to-be famed national landscapers and architects, Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) and Calvert Vaux (1824–1895), won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they titled the "Greensward Plan". Construction began the same year, continued during the American Civil War further south, and was completed in 1873. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States.[1]

Designated a National Historic Landmark (listed by the U.S. Department of the Interior and administered by the National Park Service) in 1962, the Park was managed for decades by the New York City Department of Recreation and Parks and is currently managed by the Central Park Conservancy under contract with the municipal government in a public-private partnership. 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.[6]

History[edit]

John Randel's survey bolt still visible today in Central Park

Planning[edit]

"Angel of the Waters", in Bethesda Fountain (sculpted 1873), in 2007
Lower end of mall, Central Park, New York City, 1901
The Dairy
Brooklyn Museum - "Early Spring Afternoon--Central Park" (1911) - Willard Leroy Metcalf, American

Between 1821 and 1855, New York City nearly quadrupled in population. As the city expanded northward up Manhattan Island, people were drawn to the few existing open spaces, mainly cemeteries, to get away from the noise and chaotic life in the City. Since Central Park was not part of the original Commissioners' Plan of 1811, John Randel, Jr., surveyed the grounds. The only remaining surveying bolt from his survey is still visible; it is embedded in a rock just north of the present Dairy and the 65th Street Transverse, and south of Center Drive.[7] New York City's need for a great public park was voiced by the famed 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 predicted and began to publicize the city's need for a public park in 1844. A stylish place for open-air driving, similar to Paris' Bois de Boulogne or London's Hyde Park, was felt to be needed by many influential New Yorkers, and, after an abortive attempt in 1850-1851 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. [8][9][10]

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, (1822-1903), and Calvert Vaux, (1824-1895), 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.[11] He visited several parks during these trips and was particularly impressed by Birkenhead Park and Derby Arboretum in England.[12][13]

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 E. Waring, Jr. (engineer), and Andrew Haswell Green (politician), in addition to Olmsted and Vaux.[8][9][10]

Construction[edit]

Before the construction of the park could start, the area had to be cleared of its inhabitants. Rossi states that part of the impetus to schemes such as Central Park and others was to remove the eyesore of shanty towns and their denizens,[14] most of whom were quite poor and either free African Americans or residents of English or Irish origin. Most lived in small villages, such as Harsenville,[15] the Piggery District,[16] or Seneca Village; or in the school and convent at Mount St. Vincent's Academy. Approximately 1,600 residents 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.[17]

A map of Central Park from 1875
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 1934
A children's festival in Central Park, sponsored by the Federal Art Project in September 1938.

During the park's construction, Olmsted fought constant battles with the park commissioners, many of them appointees of the city's Democratic machine[citation needed]. 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 commission's chairman.[citation needed] Despite his having relatively little experience, he managed to accelerate the construction as well as to finalize the negotiations to purchase 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.[18][19]

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 (14,100 m3) of topsoil had been transported in from New Jersey, because the original soil was neither fertile nor sufficiently substantial to sustain the various trees, shrubs, and plants called for by the Greensward Plan. When the park was officially completed in 1873, more than 10 million cartloads of material had been transported out of the park, including soil and rocks, and 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.[20]

A proposal to have ornate, European-style entrances to the park was opposed by Olmsted and Vaux, who intended for the park's unadorned entrances to signal "that all were welcome, regardless of rank or wealth."[21] The park's commissioners assigned a name to each of the original 18 gates in 1862. The names were chosen to represent the broad diversity of New York City's trades; for example, "Mariner's Gate" for the entrance at 85th Street and Central Park West.[21] The majority of entrances did not receive an inscription, however, until a park restoration effort in 1999.[21]

Sheep grazed on the Sheep Meadow from the 1860s until 1934, when they were moved to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, and soon thereafter moved to a farm near Otisville, New York in the Catskill Mountains.[22] It was feared they would be used for food by impoverished Depression-era New Yorkers. Officials were concerned that starving men would turn the sheep into lunch.[23]

Decline and renovation[edit]

Movie Skating in Central Park. Frank S. Armitage, American Mutoscope and Biograph, 1900
Central Park in May (1940)
Belvedere Castle, Central Park (built 1869)
Look out point on the lake at Central Park, one of four rustic landing stages on the Lake

Following completion, the park quickly slipped into decline. One of the main reasons for this was the lack of interest from 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 Vaux's death in 1895, the maintenance effort gradually declined. 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.[24]

According to historian Robert Caro:[25]

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.[26] 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.[27]

1960–1980[edit]

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 continues.[28]

Despite the increasing numbers of visitors to the park, Robert Moses' departure in 1960 marked the beginning of a 20-year period of decline in its management.[29] The city was experiencing economic and social changes, with some residents leaving the city and moving to the suburbs in the wake of increased crime. The Parks Department, suffering from budget cuts, responded by opening the park to any and all activities that would bring people into it, without adequate oversight and 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.[which?][citation needed]

By the mid-1970s, however, managerial neglect was taking a toll on the park's condition. "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", in the opinion of Douglas Blonsky, a president of the Central Park Conservancy.[30] Vandalism, territorial use (as when a pick-up game of softball or soccer commandeered open space to the exclusion of others) and illicit activities were taking place in the park.[citation needed]

Several volunteer citizen groups emerged, intent upon reclaiming the park by fundraising and organizing volunteer initiatives. One of these groups, the Central Park Community Fund, commissioned a study of the park’s management.[citation needed] The study's conclusion was bi-linear; it called for:

  • Establishment of a single position within the New York City Parks Department, responsible for overseeing both the planning and management of Central Park, and
  • 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.[citation needed] 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, the Central Park Administrator, and mayoral appointees.[citation needed]

1980–present[edit]

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 theory. Currently, "Graffiti doesn't last 24 hours in the park," according to Conservancy president Douglas Blonsky.[31]

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 49 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. In 2007, 3000 volunteers outnumbered under 250 workers over 12-to-1.[30]

On October 23, 2012, hedge fund manager John A. Paulson announced a $100 million gift to the Central Park Conservancy, the largest ever monetary donation to New York City’s park system.[32]

Description[edit]

Central Park New York City.svg

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.[33][34][35] 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.

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 London's Hyde Park and Munich's Englischer Garten, 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.[citation needed]

The park, which receives approximately 35 million visitors annually,[36] is the most visited urban park in the United States.[37]

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,[6] 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.[6] 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.[38]

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,[39] 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,[40] 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",[41] 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 6 miles (9.7 km) of drives within the park are used by joggers, cyclists, 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.[citation needed] 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.

Activities[edit]

Boathouse Cafe
Summerstage features free musical concerts throughout the summer
Tavern on the Green, reopened in April 2014, it was originally built in the era of Tammany Hall to house Central Park's sheep.
  • 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 the 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,[42] model power boating was popular on park waters.
  • Carriage horses: the carriage horse industry, revived in New York City in 1935,[43] has been featured in various films; the first female carriage driver, Maggie Cogan, appeared in a newsreel in 1967.[44] The ethics of this tradition and the effects on horse health and well being have been questioned by various animal rights activists, such as NYCLASS.[45][46][47][48][49][50][51]
  • Pedicabs: Pedicabs operate mostly in the southern part of the park, the same part as horse carriages.[52]
  • 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.
    • Ice Skating and Swimming: Central Park has two ice skating rinks, Wollman Rink and Lasker Rink, which converts to an outdoor swimming pool in summer.
    • Bicycle Racing: The Park drives are used as the home course for the Century Road Club Association's racing series. The CRCA is a USA Cycling sanctioned amateur cycling club.[53]
    • 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.[54]
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Entertainment

Central Park is home to the famed New York City restaurant Tavern on the Green, 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 for renovation.[56] Tavern on the Green reopened on April 24, 2014.[57]

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.[58]

Sculptures[edit]

Victory Leading Sherman
Strawberry Fields
  • 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:
  • 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.[59] 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.[60]

Geology[edit]

Rat Rock is an example of Hartland Schist

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.[61]

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.[62]

Cameron's Line is a fault zone that traverses Central Park on an east-west axis.[63]

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.

Wildlife[edit]

Flora[edit]

Bracts of Flowering Dogwood, an understory tree native to Central Park
Strawberry Fields

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 the Dutch elm disease that devastated the tree throughout its native range.

A partial listing of the tree species found in Central Park, both natives and exotics:

Fauna[edit]

Red-tailed hawk, one of the bird species found in Central Park
Many water birds live in Central Park
Cleopatra's Needle, Central Park, carved c. 1450 B.C. for Thutmose III, hieroglyphs inscribed c. 1250 B.C. for Rameses II
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.[64]

An article in The New Yorker on August 26, 1974 calls attention to this early list.[65] Over the decades the list has been updated and changed.

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.[citation needed]
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.
  • Mammals
    • 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.

Transportation[edit]

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 New York City Subway's IND Eighth Avenue Line runs along the western edge of the park, with a transfer station to the IRT Broadway – Seventh Avenue Line at Columbus Circle. In addition, the IRT Lenox Avenue Line has a station at Central Park North and 110th Street. From there the line curves southwest and west under the park, and heads west under 104th Street, and the BMT Broadway Line has a station at Fifth Avenue and 59th Street.

Trivia[edit]

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.[66] However Central Park officials have rejected the claim of anyone permanently living there.[67]

Central Park is the most filmed location in the world.[68]

Gallery[edit]

References[edit]

Notes

  1. ^ a b "About Us - The Official Website of Central Park". Central Park Conservancy. 2014. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ "World's Most-Visited Tourist Attractions". Travel + Leisure by various contributors. October 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  3. ^ "No. 2 Central Park, New York City". Travel + Leisure. October 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-13. 
  4. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  5. ^ "FAQS - Central Park". CentralPark.com. Retrieved June 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c "About the Central Park Conservancy". Central Park Conservancy. Retrieved 2010-07-15. 
  7. ^ Todd, John Emerson Todd (1982). Frederick Law Olmsted (see the history of Green-Wood Cemetery). Boston: Twayne Publishers: Twayne’s World Leader Series. p. 73. 
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Bibliography

  • 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.

Other resources

External links[edit]

Official websites

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