Along with Rockefeller Center and Times Square, New York City’s list of tourist attractions also includes Central Park. The tree-filled urban oasis stretches for about 4 kilometers and hosts 42 million visitors annually.
It was the first large public park in America
In the mid-19th century, New York’s elite, who were very attracted to Europe’s well-groomed public parks, wanted to create a similar space in the city – a space that provided residents with culture, fresh air and exercise. After years of controversy, the New York Legislature acquired land between 59th and 106th Streets.
The 1858 Design Competition was won by Frederick Lowe Olmsted and the duo Calvert Vox’s “Field Plan”. Their performance, which required a harmonious balance of natural and human elements in the park, included terraces, bridges, and “deepened” paths that allowed wheelchairs for pedestrians to move around without hindrance.
Today, Central Park is the first large, well-equipped public park in the United States.
Its construction was not easy
Today it looks naturally beautiful, but at one time it was full of mud, swamps and stones. Trees and plants could not thrive in its soil, so they brought about 14,000 cubic feet of organic soil from New Jersey to the park. Wetlands in the park have dried up and water pipes have been laid to create lakes and small rivers. In addition, the park area was covered with stones that were blown up using gunpowder and taken out of the park in carts. In all, 20,000 workers used more gunpowder to clear Central Park of unwanted stones than soldiers used in the Battle of Gettysburg.
There was a village once at this place
Before Central Park was built, about 1,600 people lived on this land. Most of them were residents of Seneca Village, a small settlement founded by African Americans in 1825. There were three churches, two schools and three cemeteries in the area. Many Irish and Germans also lived here.
In 1855, Seneca-Village was destroyed to complete the park. Their inhabitants were declared “uninhabited” and some were paid in exchange for land, while others were simply evicted by force.
It used to be full of sheep
One of the meadows in the southwest section of the park is called the “Sheep Meadow” and do you know why? It was once full of cattle that grazed on the grass there from the 1860s until the years of the Great Depression. Eventually, the animals were moved from here to Avenue Park, and their former home was transformed into the park’s famous American restaurant, Tavern on the Green.
It was once covered with glaciers
Have you ever wondered why there are so many stones and boulders in Central Park? The thing is, there used to be glaciers here that went through 12,000 years ago and left behind the remnants that they had accumulated during a “journey” around New York State.