Central Park from above, New York, Us
Central Park is regarded as the green lungs of New York. Photo: Pinterest.

The 3.4 km2 (843 acres exactly) Central Park, located in central New York – as its name, is beloved by 42 million visitors each year and Central Park is one of the largest urban parks on the planet.

Autumn, Central park, New York, US
Autumn in Central Park. Photo 1: aurelio

1. Central Park was probably built to boost the property values of nearby residents

In 1853, the New York State legislature passed the law to set aside 3km2 (750 acres) in Manhattan to found the first public landscaped park in America. It’s the fact that some of the rich in New York simply wanted New York to have a beautiful park similar to those in London to make New York a world-class destination.

Central park, New York, US
Central Park was probably built to boost the property values of nearby residents. Photo: wikipedia

However, the probable reason to bolster property values of the land surrounding Central Park. It’s actually a construction of profit. Simply because much of the land, in what is now Central Park, was useless for much of that time – rocky and craggy stretches were impossible to dynamite. So the land wasn’t used for anything, and it wasn’t easy on the eyes for nearby residents.

2. The first one to clamor for Central Park’s foundation is a newspaper editor

There were first conflicting accounts as to the park’s primary proponents. And the first approval was of William Cullen Bryant, a poet and the editor of the New York Evening Post. He started calling for “a new park” – Central Park- in 1844, because “It’s good for health, good for the city, good for all these things.

Central Park from above, New York, Us
Central Park is regarded as the green lungs of New York. Photo: Pinterest.

3. A very specific, open-to-the-public competition was held to design the park

In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux beat out 32 other competitors and eventually got the right to design Central Park. The open contest was very specific: The park had to have a parade ground, a principal fountain, a lookout tower, a skating arena, four cross streets, and a place for an exhibition or a concert hall.

central park from above, new york, us
Central Park from above.

Olmsted and Vaux seamlessly designed a naturalistic landscape hitting all those notes. They designed the park with Sheep Meadow, Bethesda Fountain, Belvedere Tower, the lake, and the sunken traverse roads in the park’s center.

4. Sheep Meadow probably once had sheep

The park’s iconic Sheep Meadow really once did have sheep for aesthetic purposes. Gray and white of the sheep were to perfectly offset themselves against the green grass. The sheep were stored at the Tavern on the Green, next to a dairy. And they were let out on to the meadow to graze twice daily.

sunbath, Central park, New York, US
Sunbathing in Sheep Meadow. Photo: Timeout.

5. Central Park is a microcosm of New York State

The southern part of Central Park, which is more formal and less rustic, is meant to evoke New York City and its surrounding wealthy suburbs. As you move north into the ramble, the hills, woods, wonderful gazebos, and benches will remind you of the bucolic Catskills and Adirondacks north of the city.

Central park, New York, US
Stone bench in Central Park. Photo: newsday

6. The Casino was once a hotspot during Prohibition

On the East Side near Fifth avenue and 72nd street, you’ll see a little building called the Casino, which Olmsted originally designed as the Ladies’ Refreshment Salon, where unaccompanied women could safely go and have refreshments without being accosted by men. A woman walking alone in the park during the 19th century was considered to be a prostitute; no woman of respectability would go out alone. So the Salon was a place for women to gather in proper fashion.

casino, Central park, New York, US
The Casino. Photo: nytimes

However, within half a century, it transformed into a casino, which hard-living New York City mayor Jimmy Walker – who could have cared less about the laws of the 1920s – turned into a roaring good time during Prohibition. Ziegfield Folly girls were escorted by the police to the Casino right after their shows ended to entertain.

7. Central Park cost about as much money as the entire state of Alaska

Buying the park’s 843 acres cost New York State legislature about 7.4 million dollars. By comparison, the United States bought Alaska – more than 600 thousand square miles – from Russia in 1867 for $7.2 million.

central park from above, new york, us
Buying the park’s 843 acres cost New York State legislature about 7.4 million dollars.

The park displaced about 20 percent of New York’s property-owning blacks.

Seneca Village, in the 80s on the park’s west side, was an established African-American community. The community had more than 250 people who owned houses, gardens, three churches, and a school. At that time, if you wanted to vote, you needed to own property. The city used eminent domain to displace these residents and others, paying them what it thought the land was worth, and the people who lived there got screwed.

8. Olmsted designed Central park with no playgrounds for children

The park was originally designed for walking and relaxing, and not for children to run and roll around. Olmsted in the early years did not believe that children should be allowed on the grass, he might have hated playgrounds. However, now it’s a movement of kids and playgrounds and all of this; he would have frowned on that entirely.

playgrounds, Central park, New York, US
Photo: flicklr

9. There are really no cannonballs under Bow Bridge

One of the city’s most romantic settings, the cast-iron Bow Bridge was reputed for a long time to have giant cannonballs set in its foundations. That is one of the great myths of New York. Every book until 1974 said that. But as they renovated the bridge, they found no cannonballs at all.

Central park, New York, US
Bow Bridge. Photo: Flickr.

10. The roads are curved to prevent horse and carriage races

In the 1850s, the pathways of Central Park were designed to be curved so you couldn’t race in your horse and carriage. However, now people race bikes in park and injure people. The curves don’t slow cyclists enough. Some of them top 32 miles per hour on the 6-mile loop. Olmsted and Vaux anticipated the urge to pick up speed in their park, but couldn’t have anticipated this kind of particular change in societal habits today.

pathways, Central park, New York, US
Photo: flicklr

Further information:

The world of the marvelous stays unrevealed. Until you travel.

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