Construction started on Central Park in 1857. Two men, Fredrick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux, were given the job of changing what was essentially cheap swampland into the 843 acres of lush landscaped nature we have today. Olmstead had been a writer and Vaux was fairly new to architecture but they had won a design competition after Andrew Jackson Downing, one of New York’s most prominent landscape architects and first choice for the project, passed away.
Central Park is particularly significant to New York and the United States because it is the country’s first public park. It’s rules of use, design, and even funding has served as the model for many parks like it. The park also launched the careers of Olmstead and Vaux who went on to create parks in Detroit, Chicago, Ontario, Boston, Quebec, and Washington D.C. to mention a few.
Central Park Quick Facts
- The park stretch 2.5 miles from 59th Street to 110th Street and half a mile from 8th Avenue to 5th Avenue
- The park contains 250 acres of lawn, 136 acres of woodland, 150 acres of water, 24,000 trees, 9,000 benches, 36 bridges, 29 playgrounds, and 7 fountains.
- As of 2011, 305 films have shot scenes in Central Park. Countless more have included ariel shots or buildings on the periphery of the park including The Plaza Hotel, Trump International Hotel and Tower, and The Dakota Building.
- It’s estimated that Central Park is worth approximately 576 billion dollars.
- Over 275 species of migratory birds can be found in Central Park. It’s a major stopping point on the Atlantic flyway and as such very popular with bird watchers.
- Central Park is almost entirely manmade. Very few areas were not landscaped completely.