Central Park is arguably New York’s most notable and revered landmark. Nowadays, an amazing number of 42 million people pass through Central Park a year, enjoying Sheep Meadow’s gorgeous lake, and enchanting gardens. Here are some facts about Central Park you may not know.
IT WAS BUILT TO RAISE PROPERTY VALUE
Back in 1853 the city’s governing body passed a law which stated 750 acres of land will be allocated for a park. However, according to Set Kamil, whose company has been offering tours of Central park for over 25 years, most of the land which now makes Central Park was of little value. He believes the purpose of the park back then was to increase the value of the neighboring properties. The terrain was too hard to be leveled, as well as unappealing, which lead to the decision for the area to be converted to a park.
THE IDEA OF A PARK IN MANHATTAN WAS FIRST PUBLICALLY SUPPORTED BY A NEWSPAPER EDITOR.
The first proponent of the park was New York Evening Post’s editor William Cullen Bryant. He first asked for a new park in 1844, saying it would be good for people’s health and for the city in general. The designing rights were won in an open public competition. The winners of the competition were Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, who managed to gain the rights to design Central Park in 1858. Sheep Meadow, Belvedere Tower, Bethesda Fountain and the rest of the key features came into being thanks to these two.
THERE ACTUALLY WERE SHEEP PRESENT IN SHEEP MEADOW BACK IN THE DAY
According to Kamil, the sheep were there for aesthetic reasons. However, they were only released into Sheep Meadow twice a day and otherwise kept somewhere else. Central Park was meant to be a miniature picture of New York. As you move from the north to the south you will be reminded of the hills and woods surrounding the city, and as you reach the southern part you should be reminded of the city and its upscale suburbs surrounding it.
THE CASINO WAS EXTREMELY POPULAR AT THE TIME OF PROHIBITION
The Ladies Refreshment Salon was a place where single women of the 19th century could go without the company of a man. Later on, the Salon was converted into the Casino, which during the Prohibition offered really good entertainment by mayor Jimmy Walker.
CENTRAL PARK IS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN ALASKA
The government body of New York City acquired the land of today’s park for an astounding $7.4 million. In comparison, the US bought the entire state of Alaska for $7.2 million from Russia.
THERE WAS AN AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY LIVING ON THE LAND
Called Seneca Village, there were over 250 people living and owning properties on the west side of the park. The city methodically displaced all the families from the land.
THE GRASSY AREAS WERE NOT MEANT FOR CHILDREN
The designers designed the park for people to enjoy a long walk and admire the views. They explicitly stated they didn’t want children to run across the grass.
THE CANNONBALLS UNDER BOW BRIDGE ARE A MYTH
According to Kamil, every book on the subject claimed that there were cannonballs inserted into the foundations of the bridge. However, when it was renovated, no such things were found.
THE ROADS ARE INTENTIONALLY CURVED
The roads and paths of the park were intentionally designed like that in order to prevent horse and carriage races. The designers foresaw the people’s need for speed, and tried to act accordingly.