For all of us, a visit to the Big Apple is never complete without taking a time out in Central Park.
This beautiful location nested in the midst of Manhattan is an island of serenity amongst the jungle of concrete.
We might wonder, how did it come to be here? And, how big, exactly is it?
Central Park – History
During a period of massive expansion in the history of New York, the seeds of Central Park were sown. An emormous 400% increase in population occurred between the years of 1821 and 1855. With so many other people surrounding them, what, could we imagine, would have been a high priority for local residents? Escaping, even if temporarily from the bustle of the city, was something that New Yorkers desired. So, in 1844, this requirement began to be advertised. This would not be an overnight success, however, with some failed attempts at making a sanctuary in the city.
Most notably, in around 180-51 Jones’s wood would try to assume the mantle of New York’s open space. However, this idea would be abandoned. Undeterrred, the New York legislature would, two years later, settle on a 280 hectare property. The location of the planned park would be between 59th and 106th streets. The park would cost over $5 million dollars, a massive amount but also something that, considering its’ longevity and uses, has been a very cheap price to pay.
In order to proceed, planning would be required. This task was assigned to a Central Park Commission, who held a landscape design contest in 1857. Who were the winners? Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won, and developed what was named the “Greensward Plan”. Several features of this plan must have caught the eye of those who made the decision, including the provision for 36 bridges to be included in the park’s design, none of the bridges being alike. Bringing the plans to fruition was no easy task and the credits for those responsible included:
- Jacob Wrey Mould – the architect
- Ignaz Anton Pilat – the gardener
- George E. Waring(jnr) – the engineer
- Andrew Haswell Green – politician
- and, of course, Olmsted and Vaux themselves
It seems that nothing in history is without it’s controversy, and Central Park is no different. In 1850 the land that would become the park was home to free African American and Irish, who now called America home. So, the area had to be cleared. This ‘clearance’ was no small feat, approximately 1600 people were moved on(something to pause and reflect upon when we walk through the park).
And, of course, there were, as there always are, disagreements and political wranglings to overcome. However, by the time the period of 1860 and 1873 was concluded, most of the heavy lifting(figuratively) had been done and Central Park was starting to become a reality.
Despite 10 million cartloads of material being removed in order to make the park, it was completed in 1873 and has graced the New York landscape ever since.
Central Park – How Big Is It?
The park itself covers 843 acres or 3.41 square kilometers, a massive amount! It is no wonder, then, that is plays host to 37 and a half million people each year. What is it like to walk in the park? Consider this video from Youtube:
Central Park – Plan A Visit
Considering the vast, shady, beautiful space that is Central Park, it is well worth scheduling a visit as we at window cleaning Perth plan to do when visiting the Big Apple. It is more than a park, it is a historic piece of New York City landscape, it is host to more than 37 million people each year, and, it is a rare mix of city and country in what is one of the world’s most iconic cities.