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Central Park

Take a tour of Central Park at the official Central Park Web Site by clicking here.

History
Central Park, the 843-acre green oasis in the center of Manhattan is New York's most well-known park, and perhaps the most famous urban park in the world. Its history began in 1856 with the acquisition of 778 acres of land, for the purpose of building a grand open space, designed specifically for public use. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's "Greensward" plan was selected among the entries of a contest to determine the design for the city's new park. Built with 590 species of shrubs and 815 species of perennials and Alpine plants, an environmental mecca inspired by English romantic landscapes was situated within this metropolis. From its beginning, urbanites have flocked to the park, with over 4 million visitors making their way to the park in 1863, the same year that the final acres of park were procured, extending it to its current border at 110th Street. Today the park averages over 20 million visitors per year. Since its construction, Central Park has evolved from a place of pastoral grandeur to a combination of natural beauty, recreational facilities and outdoor arenas.

From freshwater ponds, to lakes, pools, meadows, grassy hillocks and successional forest, there are many natural systems to pacify the eye and the soul. The 38-acre Ramble and its bordering lake are prime locations for watching the seasonal warbler migration. The 4-acre Hallett Nature Sanctuary, with its forest of black locust and black cherry, is a refuge for those species driven from their homes by the ever expanding world of concrete and asphalt. Sheep Meadow, a pasture area from the mid-19th Century until the 1930's, the Great Lawn, site of the former Yorkville Reservoir, and the East and North Meadows are grassy areas which are settings for both solitary relaxation and massive congregations. Many such gatherings have taken place since the construction of the Great Lawn in the 1930s, including the Paul Simon concert of 1991, the No Nukes Rally of 1982, and Simon & Garfunkel's performance in 1981. The North Meadow hosted to the Garth Brooks concert in 1997.

Many other special artistic and cultural programs take place in the park. Since 1957, the free Shakespeare festival has been offered during the summer months, and in 1985, the stage at Rumsey Playfield became the host to the Summerstage performances of music, dance, song and the spoken word. In 1965, the New York Philharmonic first played in the park and this favorite summertime tradition of New Yorkers has faithfully continued, only to be joined by other performing arts groups, including the Metropolitan Opera which began performing in 1967 and the New York Grand Opera which started their performance series in 1974.

The Central Park Conservancy
The Central Park Conservancy is a not-for-profit organization founded in 1980 that manages Central Park under a contract with the City of New York/Parks & Recreation.

Phone Numbers
Central Park Conservancy General Information
(212) 360-3444
For for the hearing impaired:
(800) 281-5722

Belvedere Castle, The Henry Luce Nature Observatory
Mid-Park at 79th Street

(212) 772-0210
The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center
110 Street & 5th Avenue
(212) 860-1370
The Dairy
Mid-Park at 65th Street
(212) 794-6564
North Meadow Recreation Center
Mid-Park at 97 Street
***The Center is closed for renovation and will re-open June 1998***
(212) 348-4867
Bicycle Rental (at Boathouse)
(212) 517-3623
Boathouse (Boat rentals & gondolas)
(212) 517-3623
Carousel
(212) 879-0244
Conservatory Garden
(212) 360-2766
Conservatory Water (Model Boat Pond at 74 Street)
(212) 673-1102
Fishing at Harlem Meer (Catch & Release)
(212) 860-1370
Harlem Meer Performance Festival
(212) 860-1370
Horseback Riding - Claremont Stables
(212) 724-5100
Metropolitan Opera - Performances on the Great Lawn
(212) 362-6000
New York Philharmonic - Performances on the Great Lawn
(212) 875-5709
Shakespeare in the Park - Delacorte at the Public Theater
(212) 539-8655
Skating - Lasker Rink
(212) 534-7639
Skating - Wollman Rink (Ice Skating & In-Line Skating)
(212) 396-9203
SummerStage Music Festival
(212) 360-2777
(212) 988-9093
Tennis Courts
(212) 280-0205
Weddings Hotline
(212) 360-2766
Wildlife Center & Tisch Children's Zoo
(212) 439-6500

Take a tour of Central Park at the official Central Park Web Site by clicking here.

 

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Central Park
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