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Central Park is one of those places that make New York such a great place to live.

The
huge park, 341 hectare large (843 acres), is located in the center of Manhattan. Its
design has served as an example for city parks around the world.

The park boasts several lakes, theaters, ice rinks, fountains, tennis
courts, baseball fields, many playgrounds and other facilities. It is also
home to the Central Park Zoo and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Especially during the weekends, when cars are not allowed into the
park, Central Park is a welcome oasis in this hectic city.

History
Conception

When the terrain for Central Park was


bought by the City of New York in 1853, it
was faraway from civilization, somewhere
between the City of New York and the
village Harlem. The area contained sheds
from colonists, quarries, pig farms and
swamps.
In 1857, the city of New York organized a competition for the design of
this new park, which had to rival with the great parks
in Londonand Paris. A design by Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert
Vaux, named 'the Greensward Plan' was
chosen.

Charles A. Dana Discovery

This plan featured an English style


landscape with large meadows, several
lakes and hills. Winding pedestrian roads
were separated from main roads and the
huge number of trees ensured the city's
buildings were not visible from within the
park.

Creation

To convert the swampy area into the park the designers had
envisioned, several hundred thousand trees were planted, more than 3
million cubic yards of soil was moved, roads and bridges were
constructed and a large reservoir was dug out. It took more than 15
years before the 20,000 workers had
completed the park.
Central Park immediately became a popular
place for all New Yorkers, attracting millions
of visitors each year.

The Lake

From Relaxation to Recreation

Frederic Law Olmstead's goal was to create a place where people could
relax and meditate. He saw the park as a kind of social experiment
where people from both upper and lower classes would meet, a rather
revolutionary
idea
at
that
time.
After 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,
playgrounds and the Wollman rink. He also
renovated the Zoo, and installed several
sculptures including 'Alice in Wonderland '.
Small bridge at The Pond

Decline and renovation

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 1970s the park became a symbol of New York
City's decline.

Rowboats at The Lake

The tide started to turn in 1980 when 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
Sheep Meadow and Bethesda Terrace were
restored. Three employees were hired to
remove the graffiti - it took them three

years to complete this task. Criminality was reduced with the


deployment of a large police force.
Thanks to these efforts by both the city and
private groups, Central Park is now a
relatively clean and safe place, visited by
more than 30 million people each year.
Balto Statue

Sights & Attractions


There's plenty to see and do in Central Park. Sports facilities can be
found all over the park but most of the interesting sights are found in
the lower half of Central Park. You'll come across historical buildings,
statues, monuments, beautiful bridges, and of course plenty of nature.
Some of it is quite rugged like the forest-like Ramble while other parts
of the park are more manicured and feature beautiful flowers and
shrubs.
There are eighteen gated entrances to the park.
Each of them has its own name. Several of these
gates are ornate such as the Vanderbilt Gate,
Engineers' Gate and in particular Merchants' Gate
at Columbus Circle.

Merchants' Gate

Central Park Zoo

Many people enter the via the Scholars' Gate at Grand Army Plaza,
near Fifth Avenue, which leads to a nice pond with a beautiful stone
bridge. More to the north is one of the park's most popular attractions:
Central Park Zoo. The zoo has exhibits divided into several regions
such as a tropic zone and polar circle. Some of its popular residents
include polar bears, snow leopards, red pandas and penguins. Just
north of the Central Park Zoo is the Tisch Children's Zoo, where small
children can see and touch domestic animals.

Dairy

West of the Central Park Zoo is the Dairy, a Victorian style cottage
created in 1870. The picturesque building houses a Visitor Center
where you can get maps, guides, gifts, and information on events that
are planned in Central Park. The Dairy is located at a former pasture,
where cows grazed to provide fresh milk for the city's children, hence
the name of the building.
Bethesda Terrace

The Mall, a wide boulevard lined with


American elm trees, brings you from the
Dairy to the Bethesda Terrace, one of
Central Park's architectural highlights. The
terrace has a central covered arcade
flanked by two staircases that lead to a
plaza. The focal point of the plaza is the
Bethesda Fountain, installed here in 1873.
Bethesda Fountain and Terrace
The fountain's statue, Angel of the Waters,
was created in 1842 by Emma Stebbins to commemorate the opening
of the Croton water system, which for the first time provided New York
with clean water. Bethesda Terrace overlooks The Lake and the Loeb
Boathouse, where you can rent rowing boats or even a gondola.
Statues

Alice in Wonderland

Remote controlled model boat enthusiasts head to the Conservatory


Water, a pond situated east of The Lake. There are two statues near
the pond that are very popular with children. At the west side of the
pond stands a statue of Hans Christian Andersen while a sculpture
group of Alice in Wonderland and her friends can be found just north of
the Conservatory Water. Children love to climb on the giant
mushroom. Another famous statue in Central Park shows Balto, a
Siberian Husky sled dog who in 1925 helped transport medicine across
Alaska to deliver a serum necessary to stop a deadly outbreak of
diphtheria.
Sheep Meadow and Great Lawn

Just west of the Mall is one of Central Park's largest open spaces:
Sheep Meadow, an expansive pasture popular in summertime with
sunbathers. The Great Lawn, more to the north and at the
geographical center of Central Park, is even larger. The oval lawn,
created in 1937, often plays host to free summer concerts.

Metropolitan Museum and Cleopatra's Needle

The most important monument in Central Park


isCleopatra's Needle, an authentic Egyptian obelisk,
located east of the Great Lawn. The 20 meter tall
granite obelisk was originally erected at Heliopolis
and later moved to Alexandria. In the midnineteenth century it was donated to the US as a
gift
from
Egypt.
The obelisk stands near the Metropolitan Museum of
Art, one of the world's most important museums,
with an enormous collection of artwork from all
continents, covering a period from prehistory to
today.
Cleopatra's Needle

Strawberry Fields

Strawberry Fields is a memorial garden situated near the entrance to


Central Park at W 72nd Street. It was created in honor of John Lennon,
who was shot dead in front of the Dakota Apartments, where he lived.
The tear-shaped garden was dedicated in 1985 as a garden of peace.
It is named after a Beatles song written by
John Lennon.
The famous mosaic with the word Imagine
(another Lennon song) was a gift from the
city of Naples in Italy.

Strawberry Fields Mosaic

Bow Bridge and Ramble

There are many bridges in Central Park - each with a unique design.
One of the most interesting is the 18 meter (60 ft) long cast-iron Bow
Bridge, that spans The Lake between Cherry Hill near the Bethesda
Terrace and the Ramble, a 15 hectare (38 acre) large woodland. Here
Central Park is at its most natural, with narrow paths winding through
thickets of trees. This is a popular place for bird-watching: the Ramble
is on a trans-Atlantic migration route and more than 250 different bird
species have been spotted here.

Belvedere Castle

Just north of the Ramble is the Belvedere Castle,


situated at the highest point in the park. The castle
was created in 1869 as a lookout tower after a
design by Calvert Vaux. The tower overlooks Turtle
Pond, named for the many turtles that live here.

Belvedere Castle

Shakespeare Garden

Shakespeare Garden was created in 1913 as the Garden of the Heart.


Three years later, on the 300th anniversary of the Shakespeare's
death, it was dedicated to the famous play writer. The garden contains
plants that were mentioned in Shakespeare's plays. Stairs connect the
garden with the Swedish Cottage, a replica of a Swedish school from
the nineteenth century. It was transported to Philadelphia on the
occasion of the Centennial International Exhibition of 1876 and it
eventually ended up here in New York's Central Park.
Conservatory Garden

The upper part of Central Park is less visited and


there are also less interesting sights. One major
exception is the Conservatory Garden, the only
garden in Central Park with a formal layout. It is
divided into three sections: a central Italianate
garden flanked by a French-style garden to the
north and an English-style garden to the south.
The gardens are adorned with several beautiful
fountains, including "Three Dancing Maidens",
created in 1910 by the German sculptor Walter
Schott.
Conservatory Garden

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center

Further up north, bordering Harlem, is Harlem Meer, one of the largest


lakes in Central Park. The pretty Victorian-style building near the lake
is much younger than it looks: it was built in 1993. It is home to the
Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, an environmental educational
center targeting families and children.
( : http://www.aviewoncities.com/nyc/centralpark.htm)