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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CENTRAL PARK - A BRIEF HISTORY

In Jan/Feb 2014 while taking a course in NYC I stayed in a dorm (Sara´s homestay) on 85th street, very close to Central Park. 
* 85th street in Manhattan
* 85th street in Manhattan - a photo in front of Sara´s homestay

It was just about a five-minute walk to get there. I was with a group of Brazilian teachers and at that time the weather was terrible so we had to face snowstorms very often. In spite of that very cold – freezing, I would say - weather we went to the park a few times and the sensation was that the weather was even colder. Here you can see some photos and also a little history of Central Park:
New York's Central Park is the first urban landscaped park in the United States. Originally conceived in the salons of wealthy New Yorkers in the early 1850's, the park project spanned more than a decade and cost the city ten million dollars.
After years of debate over the location, the park's construction finally began in 1857, based on the winner of a park design contest, the "Greensward Plan," of Frederick Law Olmsted, the park superintendent, and Calvert Vaux, an architect. Using the power of eminent domain the city acquired 840 acres located in the center of Manhattan, spanning two and a half miles from 59th Street to 106th Street  and half a mile from Fifth Avenue to Eighth Avenue. In the process, a population of about 1,600 people who had been living in the rocky, swampy terrain - some as legitimate renters and others as squatters - were evicted; included in this sweep were a convent and school, bone-boiling plants, and the residents of Seneca Village, an African-American settlement of about 270 people which boasted a school and three churches.
As the city and the park moved into the twentieth century, the lower reservoir was drained and turned into the Great Lawn. The first playground, complete with jungle gyms and slides, was installed in the park in 1926, despite opposition by conservationists, who argued that the park was intended as a countryside escape for urban dwellers. The playground, used mostly by the children of middle and working class parents, was a great success; by the 1940s, under the direction of parks commissioner Robert Moses, Central Park was home to more than twenty playgrounds.
In the sixties and seventies the park's maintenance entered a decline; despite its growing use for concerts and rallies, clean-up, planting, and general maintenance fell by the wayside. A 1976 evaluation by Columbia University found many parts of the park in sad disrepair, from the low stone wall which surrounded it to the drainage system that kept the transverses from flooding. During the early 1980s there was a massive attempt to involve New Yorkers in the upkeep of their beloved park, including the "You Gotta Have a Park" campaign and the formation of a private fundraising body (the Central Park Conservancy) to fund repairs projects. Today, as the major site of most New Yorkers' recreation, the park hosts millions of visitors yearly engaging in such activities as roller blading, fine dining at the Tavern on the Green, watching free performances of Shakespeare in the Park, and relaxing and sunbathing in Sheep's Meadow.
                                           Aadapted from www.ny.com

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