New York,United States
Central Park is New York City’s largest park and certainly one of the most famous throughout the world.
Located in the center of Manhattan, in the residential neighborhoods of the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, Central Park is shaped as a rectangle measuring 2.5 miles long and .5 mile wide. Opened to the public in December 1859, it is considered one of the greatest public works carried out in New York in the twentieth century.
Let’s take a look at Central Park’s history.
By early 19th century, following the continuous expansion of the city and a significant increase in population, the pressing need for green space kept growing. People wanted an outdoor place where they could gather to spend free time. After many public debates, in 1854 the City acquired approximately 1 square mile of land right in the center of Manhattan - a swampy, area which was unsuitable for any type of construction. At the time, this area was inhabited by poor African Americans, Germans and breeders of Irish pigs.
In 1857, a public tender was organized to begin construction of the park which and was won by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux - the famous architects of English origin landscapes. The project involved the construction of lakes, terraces, bridges and roads for pedestrians, carriages and horses. The construction required plenty of manual labor and would employ 20,000 workers to eliminate the imposing rocks by using a disproportionate amount of gun powder, moving nearly 4 million cubic yards of earth and planting more than 270,000 trees, plants and bushes of all kinds.
Between the years 1857 and 1865, Central Park was visited by over 7 million people, despite strict entry requirements. Picnics were forbidden and ball-playing was limited only to children with written permission from the principal of their school. After years of protests the park rules became more lenient and slowly began to allow concerts, the opening of the zoo and rides as well as tennis courts.
Unfortunately, after a few decades the park fell into a sad state of disrepair, with an increase of gang violence, homeless squatting park benches and abundance of growing trash, that is until 1934, when thanks to the intervention of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, the park was finally cleaned and renovated.
The park began to flourish again with a trash cleanup program, new trees and flower beds, numerous swimming pools, athletic fields for softball and other sports. Later through many private donations, many other facilities were added the purchase of new boats for the ever-famous Central Park boathouse, now allowed for pleasant boat rides on the lake.
Since then, citizens began to use this beautiful green space, enriching it with cultural events of all kinds as we know it today. Central Park is now considered one the most authentic symbols of the rebirth of New York City and a favorite destination for tourists and locals alike to relax and enjoy green space in NYC.
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