Centrl Park is Manhattan’s beating green heart and is in every way the true center of Manhattan, more than Times Square can ever be. Ever since it opened in 1857 it has been the place for New Yorkers and her visitors to play, seek refuge in nature, bask in beauty, glory in heritage and celebrate everything and everyone in New York City. It is held in affection so much more than any other part of the City because it belongs to everyone and it is instantly available and right there.
Opened in 1857 and then famously laid out and designed by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, it has a unique separate circulation system that separates pedestrians, horseback riders, pleasure vehicles and bicycles. With the advent of cars there has been controversy about how best to allow some vehicular access to the Park while maintaining the safety of walkers, runners and cyclists. Exactly how to do that is to everyone’s satisfaction is still something of an open question. It’s upkeep as ebbed and flowed over time but it is now in safe hands.
The current vibrant and very well cared for state of the Park is the result of the 1980 establishment of the Central Park Conservancy. Every neglected and crumbling building of note, Betheseda Fountain and Terrace, every bridge and waterway has been restored. And thousands upon thousands of trees and shrubs and yards of huge areas of lawn have been replanted and then meticulously nurtured to mature growth.
The Conservancy has taken over responsibility for over 80% of the running costs for the Park, holding special campaigns and fund raising drives when extra funds are needed. The Conservancy now also directs the paid staff and as well as supervises a volunteer staff of thousands who work with them to keep the Park in tip top condition. The excellence of its work has been recognized with the large number of awards they have received.
The Park is of course huge, 843 acres, and its layout encompasses everything from quiet corners of calm to children’s playgrounds (19), a zoo, a wild life reserve, ball fields (12), beautiful buildings, a carousel, ice skating rinks (2), an area of natural woods, scultures (29), theaters, restaurants and a memorial to John Lennon. Go to Central Park Maps to discover what is on offer and where.
One of the most enduring wonders of Central Park is how the change of seasons alters it’s character. It goes from the rich, red fullness of Fall to the stark white beauty of Winter to the joyous green of Spring to the dappled shade of Summer. It welcomes everyone and everycomes comes, walking, skating, cycling, running or just sitting on the Great Lawn or reading a book while seated on a Park bench. Go to the site above to see everything that is on. There is truly something for everyone, so go exploring and find your own favorite spot in Central Park.