New York City Guide

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Central Park

Situated in Manhattan between 59th and 110th street, and between Fifth and Eighth Avenues, Central Park is a large public area in the shape of a rectangle 2.5 miles by one-half mile, or 4 km × 0.8 km. Central Park's appearance in many feature films and television shows has made it one of the world's most famous city parks. The park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who later created Brooklyn's Prospect Park. While much of the park looks natural, it was in fact highly landscaped creating several artificial lakes, walking tracks, a wildlife sanctuary, and grassy areas which are used for various sporting activities, there are also a number of  children's playgrounds. It is also home to the Central Park Zoo and the Metropolitan museum of Art.

Central Park 1The City of New York bought the land in 1853 and in 1857 organized a competition for the design of a new park, with the intention of rivaling the great parks of London and Paris. the winner was a design by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's, named the Greensward Plan. The plan featured an English style landscape with large meadows, several lakes and hills. Winding pedestrian paths were separated from main roads and a huge number of trees were planned in an attempt to hide the city's buildings from view. It took more than 15 years before the work was completed. Central Park immediately became a popular place for all New Yorkers, attracting millions of visitors every year.

With the appointment of Robert Moses in 1934 as New York City Parks Commissioner, the focus of the park shifted from relaxation to recreation. During Moses's 26 year tenure he constructed many sports facilities and playgrounds. He also renovated the Zoo, and installed several sculptures. After the departure of Moses in 1960, Central park started to decline. Graffiti, garbage and criminality kept both citizens and tourists from visiting the park. In the 1970's the park became a symbol of the decline of the city.

In 1980 a group of citizens created the Central Park Conservancy. Together with the city, it started a 50 million dollar renovation project. Several parts of the park, including the Sheep Meadow and Bethesda Terrace were restored. Graffiti was cleaned away and criminality was reduced by a large police presence. Thankfully these efforts have paid off and Central park is now a relatively clean and safe place to visit.

In Central Park near the west entrance, across the road from the Dakota Building, there is an area called Strawberry Fields. A black and white mosaic containing the word Imagine It lies at an intersection of walking paths. The site was created by Yoko Ono as a tribute to John's vision of peace.

Central Park 2 Central Park 3 Central Park Imagine