In 1853, a group of wealthy New Yorkers began to advocate for a large public park in New York City. They admired the public grounds of European cities like Paris, and thought a public park would help establish New York’s international reputation as a major world city. In addition, they argued that a public park would give the wealthy a place for carriage rides and the working class a healthy alternative to the saloon. The state legislature agreed, and authorized the city of New York to acquire the 700 acres of land that would eventually become Central Park. In 1857, the commissioners of the park held a design contest which Frederick Law Olmstead won with his “Greensward Plan”. After a massive public works project employing 20,000 workers, the park first opened for public use in 1859. It fully was completed in 1873.
A Currier and Ives print from 1862
Today the park receives approximately 25 million visitors a year and is designated as a National Historic Landmark.
A Map of Central Park
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