Central Park: New York’s Green Oasis

Central Park, otherwise known as New York City’s green oasis, is a sight to be seen. The park first opened in 1857 on 770 acres of land, long before New York became the urban playground that we know it as today. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park. Construction began that year and was completed in 1873 – still long before the park began to resemble what it is today. Central Park was surprisingly not designated a National Historic Landmark until 1963. Today, it’s managed by the Central Park Conservatory under contract with the city’s government. The park, which receives a staggering twenty-five million visitors annually, is the most visited urban park in the United States.

While the foliage in Central Park appears natural today, it is actually almost entirely landscaped. The park contains several natural-looking lakes and ponds that were artificially created, as well as extensive walking paths, bridle paths, two ice-skating rinks (one of which is a swimming pool during New York’s scorching hot summer months) and more. There’s also a large area of natural woods, a 106-acre reservoir around which people can run (you’ve probably seen this in the movies), and an outdoor amphitheater that plays host to the famous “Shakespeare in the Park” festivals.

There’s also the Belvedere Castle that also contains a nature center, and the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater, as well as the historic carousel. You’ll also find tons of green grassy areas, which during the days are populated with playing pedestrians and sports teams. Central Park also boasts a number of enclosed playgrounds for young children. Automobile transport in the park is banned after 7PM, and during the day, the drivers share their lanes with bikers, joggers, and roller bladers.

A visit to Manhattan without a visit to Central Park isn’t a complete one. For more information on Central Park, click here.

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