A visit to New York would be incomplete without a trip to Central Park. The jewel in the crown of Manhattan’s recreational landscape, the park boasts lakes, sports facilities, fountains and ice rinks, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Central Park Zoo. Although you can get there by frequent public transport services, you may want to settle for car hire while in New York; however this famous park is best seen on foot.
It was the first public landscaped park in the United States
Conceived in the early 1850s; the park was an effort by New York’s high society to prove to Europe that they too had an appreciation for cultural refinement and a sense of civic duty. In 1853 the land – home to quarries, swamps, pig farms and colonists sheds – was purchased for $14 million, in 1858 the ‘Greensward Plan’ by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a public competition, and over the next 16 years the park was developed, costing the city around $10 million and using more than 20,000 workers.
It is larger than Vatican City
Stretching approximately 8443 acres – or the equivalent of 16 billion New York City apartments – Central Park is a creation of vast numbers. Within the park’s 6 mile perimeter there are 150 acres of water, 250 acres of lawns and 136 acres of woodland. There are also 26,000 trees and 9,000 benches, 58 miles of pedestrian pathways, over 4 miles of bridle paths, over 6 acres of bird sanctuary, 30 tennis courts, 21 playgrounds, 26 ball-fields and 2 ice rinks – one of which becomes a swimming pool in the summer months. There are also 18 gated entrances and, during the original development, it was said that more gunpowder was used to blast through the bedrock than was used throughout the Battle of Gettysburg.
It is the most filmed public park in the world
In 1908, the first filmed version of Romeo and Juliet was the first film ever to be shot in Central Park. Since then, over 300 movies have used the park itself. Indeed, some of cinema’s most memorable triumphs have used the park in their scenes, including An Affair to Remember, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, The Manchurian Candidate, The Producers, Love Story, The Way We Were, Death Wish, Marathon Man, Annie Hall, Hair, Kramer vs. Kramer, Tootsie, Ghostbusters, Cruel Intentions, Almost Famous, The Avengers and, of course, the inimitable The Muppets Take Manhattan.
It is home to one of the largest carousels in the United States
The have been four carousels in Central Park since 1871. The first was powered by mules and horses, trained to start and stop on command and hidden beneath the platform, until 1924. The second and third were destroyed by fire, and the fourth – which still stands today – was found on Coney Island, abandoned in a trolley terminal, when the Parks Department were looking for a replacement. The vintage merry-go-round was made in 1908 by Solomon Stein and Harry Goldstein who hand-carved the 57 horses and two chariots and, to this day, it remains one of the largest in the USA.
It has its own police precinct
As is fitting for its size, Central Park has its own New York City Police Department – the Central Park Precinct – which employs auxiliary officers as well as regular police. The NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, in the form of the NYC Parks Enforcement Patrol, also maintains a unit in the park. Responsible for providing protective services to parkland, waterways, monuments and public pools, the uniformed officers patrol in four-wheel vehicles, boats, on horseback and by foot.
* Photo source http://www.sxc.hu/index.phtml
Determined to increase his own travel experiences; Oliver Harper is a man on a travel mission. After visiting New York for the first time last December, Oliver is currently planning new adventures which include a trip to Morocco and voluntary based work.