View Full Version : Central Park turns 150

April 26th, 2003, 04:36 PM
Happy birthday: Central Park, the nation's first designed urban park, turns 150 this year.

Central Park turns 150

By Jerry Shriver, USA TODAY

NEW YORK — Long before this metropolis became famous for skyscrapers and neurotic citizens, civic leaders declared the need for an accessible pastoral refuge — a "central park" — where the wealthy could promenade in carriages, urchins could breathe clean air and the masses could just relax under the elms.

That was in 1853. Eventually, when all of the political wrangling, land grabbing, swamp dredging, bench building, tree planting and grass seeding was done, the result was 843-acre Central Park, the nation's first designed urban park. It celebrates its 150th birthday this year.

At a news conference April 29, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and possibly first lady Laura Bush are scheduled to announce a seven-month slate of special events to be highlighted by a birthday party July 19, a film fest and several concerts (details at www.centralparknyc.org). Bloomberg has called the celebrations "a tribute for the ages."

"We're going to have something for everyone to do, and we anticipate lots of New Yorkers will celebrate the park that means so much to them," says Regina Peruggi, president of the Central Park Conservancy.

Park experts from around the world also will join in. They're coming for a conference in June that will explore how the private, non-profit Conservancy has teamed with the city to run and finance the park and implement $300 million in improvements since 1980.

That partnership is widely credited with rescuing the park from its crime-ridden days of the mid-1900s and turning it into a showcase that is visited by 25 million people a year.

"We concentrate on the fact that this is a very fragile place, and unless it's kept up, it could easily deteriorate to where it was," Peruggi says.

Today the masses are lured by the Metropolitan Museum of Art; Tavern on the Green, the country's top-grossing restaurant; an outdoor theater offering Shakespearean plays; a zoo; band shells blasting world-music beats; and dozens of memorials honoring personalities as diverse as John Lennon and Beethoven and a sled dog named Balto.

But they also still come to promenade, breathe deeply and soak up the enduring landscape of lakes, meadows and forests laid out by architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in their 1857 "Greensward Plan."

And to fall in love.

Says Michael Patrick King, executive producer of HBO's Sex and the City, which has filmed several memorable scenes at the park: "Central Park is a soft, natural oasis in the center of this concrete and steel city. It represents the romantic heart that still beats inside our big-city girls."

By the numbers:
Annual visitors: 25 million.
Total acres: 843, including 136 acres of woodlands, 150 acres of water and 250 acres of lawns.
Perimeter: 6 miles.
Miles of trails: 58 miles of pedestrian paths, 4.5 miles of bridle trails, 6.5 miles of Park Drive.
Benches: 6,000, which would stretch for 7 miles laid end-to-end.
Cost of "adopting" a bench: $7,500 to $25,000.
Cost of "adopting" a tree: $1,000 to $100,000.
Original construction cost: About $14 million from 1858-73 ($200 million in today's dollars).
Restrooms: 17.
Hot dog/ice cream vendors: About 50.
Horse-drawn carriages: About 70 in the city, most in Central Park.
Playgrounds: 21.
Endowment of the Central Park Conservancy: $72 million.
Feeding times for penguins at the zoo: 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.


The Bow Bridge, completed in 1862, is Central Park's most famous -- and picturesque -- bridge. Located in the middle of the park, it spans 60 feet and links Cherry Hill with the Ramble.

As you can see, little has changed since people walked across the Bow Bridge for the first time 141 years ago. It has been the backdrop for many movie shoots and countless wedding pictures.

An estimated crowd of 125,000 attended a Mass given by Pope John Paul II in 1995.

A man with friends in slightly lower places, Garth Brooks packed them in for a 1997 concert. Other high-profile acts to play free shows in the park include Simon and Garfunkel, Diana Ross and Luciano Pavarotti.

The kids took over the Great Lawn in 1995, when approximately 100,000 people gathered to watch "Pocahontas" at what is thought to be the largest movie premiere in history.

The Central Park Zoo began in the 1860s with the donation of a handful of swans and a bear cub. One hundred and fifty years later, it boasts 1,400 animals of more than 130 species.

The open-air Delacorte Theater has presented free summer performances in Central Park since 1962, with at least one Shakespeare production each year.

A young girl in a goat cart demonstrates the best way to get around Central Park in the early years.

The goats have been replaced by horses in front of this hansom cab, but Central Park's primary mode of transportation hasn't changed much over the last 100-plus years.

One of the more somber moments in Central Park history took place on Sept. 11, 2002, when a candlelight vigil marked the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Ice skating was so popular in the 19th century that New York newspapers regularly reported the condition of the park's ice-covered ponds, according to the official Central Park Web site.

Central Park's first carousel opened in 1871 but was destroyed by fire in 1954. The park replaced it by acquiring this 1908 treasure from Coney Island.

It's not often that you see farm animals grazing in the shadows of skyscrapers, but this 1930 photo demonstrates the origin of the name of Central Park's Sheep Meadow.

While the Sheep Meadow itself hasn't changed much, the animals inhabiting it sure have.

April 26th, 2003, 05:39 PM
Happy birthday Central Park.
We are lucky.



TLOZ Link5
April 27th, 2003, 02:24 PM
Happy 400th post, Zippy!

This thread now celebrates two anniversaries, hehe.

April 27th, 2003, 02:27 PM
Annual visitors: 25 million

I expected more.

April 27th, 2003, 03:53 PM
400! I should shut down the computer and check the family for mileposts.

How do they know it's 25 million? They probably made it up.
They could have said 15 million or 50 million, and I would say, "Yup, sounds about right."

April 29th, 2003, 01:16 PM
150 years ago all the trees were saplings. Now they have finally matured into what Olmstead and Vaux envisioned, and the park has never looked better.

April 29th, 2003, 01:35 PM
Except for the rock outcroppings, the terrain is artificial,
yet it looks like it was carved out of what we think Manhattan looked like.

Even in good times, NYC allocates 0.5% of budget to Parks Dept. I think in Paris it's about 8%. Groups like CP Concervancy make all the difference.

April 29th, 2003, 01:38 PM
150 years ago all the trees were saplings. Now they have finally matured into what Olmstead and Vaux envisioned, and the park has never looked better.

I agree.
However, not only the trees, but also the magnificent skylines of Central Park West & South, that didn't exist 150 years ago, have an important contribution to the beauty of the park.

(Edited by Fabb at 1:40 pm on April 29, 2003)

May 4th, 2003, 01:13 AM














May 5th, 2003, 10:45 AM
King of all Parks... end of story.

May 5th, 2003, 01:24 PM
The only oasis bordered by a mirage.

May 15th, 2003, 08:45 AM
New York Times
May 15, 2003
Birth of Central Park Holds Parallels With Ground Zero

What vast Manhattan architectural and public works project, the likes of which New York City had never seen before, was begun in a time of economic crisis and changed the city forever?

Hint: Stakeholders ranging from real-estate moguls to state and city politicians exerted intense pressure. Republicans stepped in to bigfoot the process. Initial, ho-hum plans were rejected. In the hard-fought design competition that followed, a showdown led to the choice of the Republicans' favorite. The winning and losing designs were placed on display for all to see. Immediately, then, the winning design was altered by powerful competing interests.

Another hint: Think way before ground zero.

The project was Central Park, and there are many eerie parallels between that effort and the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. "The creation of Central Park, one of the greatest works of art in America, is an epic story," said Morrison H. Heckscher, Lawrence A. Fleischman chairman of the American Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "And the dynamic hasn't changed all that much through the centuries."

Today the museum is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the park it has inhabited since 1880 with the opening of "Central Park: A Sesquicentennial Celebration." The exhibition, curated by Mr. Heckscher, traces the design and building of the first great public park in America. The show features the original presentation plans and drawings by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, who won an 1858 design contest that was curiously echoed in the ground zero competition decided last February.

On July 21, 1853, the State Legislature designated as "a public place" the lands that were to become Central Park, accomplishing the unheard-of removal of 17,000 potential building sites from the real-estate market.

"It's appropriate to celebrate the year of the Legislature's decision rather than, say, the design competition in 1858," said Sara Cedar Miller, the historian and photographer for the Central Park Conservancy, which helped to organize the Met exhibition. "The vision to take so much land for a city park was unprecedented in the history of this country."

The show's 60 original maps, drawings, watercolors, lithographs, engravings, paintings and photographs include rare stereograph views of the park from the museum's collections as well as those of the New York City Municipal Archives, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New-York Historical Society.

In the exhibit, the genesis of Central Park can be seen in an 8-foot-by-2.5-foot original engraving on heavy paper — decorated with a blue and green wash — of the famous April 1811 commissioners' plan that established the grid pattern for Manhattan. It delineated 12 north-south avenues, 155 east-west streets and a planned public park called the Parade, a 229-acre tract between 23rd Streets and 34th Streets.

As demonstrated by the subsequent 1836 Colton Map (a rare section of an early engraver's test print is on view in the show), the Parade succumbed to real-estate speculation before it could be built. The ensuing clamor for a large public park ended in the election of Mayor Ambrose C. Kingsland, who in 1851 proposed the creation of just such an amenity.

"The rich wanted New York to be a major metropolis, and a park was de rigueur, as in Paris and London," said Ms. Miller, author of "Central Park, an American Masterpiece" (Harry N. Abrams, 2003, $45). "And visionaries saw the park as an outdoor classroom in urban reform. They thought immigrants would witness the fine clothes and the carriages and would want to work hard to be part of the American dream."

In addition, as at ground zero, Mr. Heckscher said, "there certainly was pressure to make a decision on the use of the land."

The city's parks at the time were largely decorous and enclosed, often privately maintained, like Gramercy Park. And although City Hall Park was open to the public, those hungry for nature had to cross the Hudson or head to the dead at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

The State Legislature finally stepped in to check the corruption of Tammany Hall, Ms. Miller said, and it voted to create a park from 59th to 106th Streets, later expanded to 110th Street in 1863. Many of the great 19th-century public parks of England and France had once been royal hunting grounds given over to the people, "which makes the vote of the Legislature to create a park even more unique," Ms. Miller said.

The Central Park tract was swampy, scrubby, rocky and not easily farmed. Another of the treasures on view is the original 1855 drainage plan of Egbert Ludovicus Viele, who was hired in 1854 to be the park's chief engineer. He had come up with a design that, though lackluster, was at first accepted by park commissioners in 1856. That workmanlike plan — also presented in the exhibition — so appalled Vaux that he politicked to throw the choice open to a competition.

Vaux had been a partner of Andrew Jackson Downing, the nation's foremost landscape gardener, and he entered the competition with Viele's gifted park construction superintendent, Olmsted. After toiling at his day job in the park, Olmsted would travel to the town house of Vaux, helping to design the park during the winter of 1857-58. Their hand-drawn original 11-foot-long-by-3-foot-wide presentation drawing is one of the stars of the exhibition.

Also part of the exhibition are eight of the original 11 presentation boards created by Olmsted and Vaux to hawk their plan. The boards feature black-and-white "before" pictures of the existing parkland, taken by the studio of the photographer Matthew Brady (some possibly by Brady himself), as well as oil renderings of the park that would be, some by Vaux. Alone among all the entries, the Olmsted and Vaux plan (they called it Greensward) called for submerged road cuts, isolating the park from crosstown traffic.

The park, Mr. Heckscher said, "was to be a place for passive entertainment, and for the appreciation of nature — a public living room for people of all classes, who were supposed to be on their best behavior."

In all, there were 33 competing design proposals, compared with seven in the final round at ground zero. In the end, the park battle narrowed down to two plans, as in the recent drawdown between Daniel Libeskind and Rafael Viñoly.

The exhibition presents two new discoveries: the runner-up design in the competition by Samuel J. Gustin, as well as an exuberant original ink-and-watercolor entry by John Rink. They have not been on public display since the competition, and both were discovered by Ms. Miller.

Though the Gustin plan was originally the betting favorite (not unlike the Viñoly plan after a key planning committee supported it at the 11th hour in the February ground-zero smackdown with Mr. Libeskind), the Republican-backed Greensward plan was victorious. The final 1858 commissioners' tally presaged the vote in 2003, when Republican Gov. George E. Pataki threw his weight behind the Libeskind design.

Shortly after it was accepted, the Greensward plan was modified to accommodate wealthy New Yorkers' demand for carriage drives and riding trails, adding to the pedestrian paths originally envisioned. An attempt to shrink the size of the park was beaten back by Mayor Fernando Wood, "which was the best thing — and possibly the only good thing — he ever did," Ms. Miller said, noting that Wood was an otherwise undistinguished politician. In the end, admirers of Central Park inspired the movement for state and national parks. And, even then, imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. "Every city in the country," Ms. Miller said, "wanted its own Central Park."

(Edited by ddny at 11:48 am on May 15, 2003)

May 16th, 2003, 01:09 PM
Going to the Zoo

May 16th, 2003, 01:19 PM
That's great art!

ny patrick
May 17th, 2003, 05:50 AM
those were great pictures, i have always dreamed about skiing in the park

May 23rd, 2003, 10:58 AM
Eulogy: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/23/arts/23MUSC.html

Events: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/05/23/arts/23BPARK.html

May 31st, 2003, 11:58 PM
June 1, 2003

Central Park's Golden Age

If a well-tended park can bring to mind the gaudy spring of Shakespeare's sonnet, Central Park summons an epic of Homeric proportions. Taken all at once, it is grand, sweeping, nearly overwhelming. Fortunately, it is also digestible in small, delicious bites.

The park's 150th birthday is this year. It has taken that long to make the park what it is today: a safe retreat where one's only worry is that there's a more beautiful spot elsewhere that one may be missing. On one recent morning at the north end of the park, a black-crowned Night-Heron sat regally on a branch in the Harlem Meer, waiting to pluck lunch from the fish-filled waters. Farther south, a waterfall glistened along a wall of jagged black rock and puddled into the Pond, another serene pool with coves and aquatic grasses, where a resident duck waddled ashore to fetch one of her brood, briefly forcing passers-through to make way for the duckling. In the Ramble and the North Woods, paths slice through thickets of trees and shrubs with a density approaching a subtropical forest's. Ferns sway on hilly terrain.

The 843 acres that make up the nation's best-known municipal park showcase nature at its finest. But except for the naturally formed rock and some of the creatures that inhabit or pass through the park, from 200 species of birds to all kinds of dogs and people, the settings are made or enhanced by man. Away from the obviously manicured greenery of the Great Lawn (created from a drained reservoir in the 1930's), the Sheep Meadow and the elm-lined Mall and Literary Walk, there are places shaped by stealthy engineering. The park's ponds and lakes are carved out by design, the fish they hold selected like tenants in an exclusive co-op. A heron's perch will remain picture-perfect, because it has been anchored at just the right spot. Trees, plants and flowers, seemingly wild, are placed and tended with care. Hidden garden hoses create a waterfall. This is art, the realization of Hudson Valley paintings and imagined Edens. Taken together with its structures and monuments, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Bethesda Terrace, Central Park is an ingenious effort to soothe and inspire 25 million visitors every year.

Park officials date its beginning from July 21, 1853, when state legislators voted to create a public space out of a rocky and swampy plot of land on the edges of 19th-century New York City. Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted provided the blueprint several years later. Their grand vision went beyond the European model, and not only in landscaping. They foresaw that the rich and working classes alike could find solace within its boundaries.

Over the years, the park came to symbolize the ills of the larger city, hitting bottom in the mid-1970's, when it became a repository for graffiti and garbage, thugs and drugs, its gardens and playgrounds in ruins. Resurrection came with the establishment of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980, which did something the city alone could not. The conservancy marshaled the resources of the park's neighbors, raising and spending $300 million to recreate and maintain the park as a model of public-private partnership.

The anniversary will be marked on July 19 with fireworks and concerts. But the real celebrating will be done by the city's lucky residents, as it is every day, on skates and bikes, in sneakers and strollers, or arm-in-arm, soaking up the joys of one of the greatest parks in the world.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 3rd, 2003, 08:22 AM

Central Park: Grand experiment, urban respite

NEW YORK (AP) --Step off Fifth Avenue into Central Park and the temperature can drop five degrees on a steamy summer day. Eyes accustomed to grimy shades of city gray suddenly flood with every tint of green. Breathe deeply: A heady combination of lilac and magnolia overwhelms.

It's a place to scale rocks, to jog, to swim, to fly a kite, to simply read a book. Life in New York would be "impossible" without the park, declares Sarah Elliott, an avid bird watcher who takes visitors through the Ramble, a 38-acre shaded woodland of secluded glades, ragged outcroppings, cascades and a cave.

"There are so many things people worry about in this city," she says. "To step into the park is a reprieve. You become part of Mother Nature's plan."

Many visitors -- including native New Yorkers -- don't realize its scope: 58 miles of pedestrian paths and 150 acres of water. The varied topography includes a few fiercely protected American elms; Harlem Hill, a steep challenge tackled by thousands of bicyclists and runners each year; craggy boulders worthy of any nature-starved rock climber; and natural springs evoking the Catskills and Adirondacks.

There are small glades, quiet coves and a bridle trail around the reservoir; hidden inlets and rustic rowboat landings along the undulating shoreline of the 21-acre, butterfly-shaped lake at Bethesda Terrace. Flat, wide-open stretches of lawn dwarf those of almost any college campus.

People even fish on the Harlem Meer.

Yet, for all of its lush 843 acres, Central Park is a manmade oasis. The vision of designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, it was born 150 years ago when the New York State Legislature set aside land for the nation's first major public park.

Birthday celebrations
This year, theater, music, dance and sports mark a year of birthday celebrations. Two museum exhibits commemorate its sesquicentennial. The original plans and drawings of the "Greensward Plan" submitted by Olmsted and Vaux are at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Central Park in Blue," at the Museum of the City of New York, highlights newly discovered blueprints by landscape architect Augustus Hepp. A new book, "Central Park, an American Masterpiece," details the park's extraordinary history.

There is much to celebrate. Central Park is almost restored to its original splendor and drawing 25 million people annually, a leap from the days when a fiscal crisis rendered it little more than an ugly wild patch on the urban landscape.

The story began between 1853 and 1856, when city commissioners paid more than $5 million for a rectangle of undeveloped land running from 59th Street to 106th Street between Fifth and Eighth avenues. In 1858, Olmsted and Vaux won a competition to design the space.

Ten million cartloads of soil were brought in to fill a landscape consisting mostly of swamps and 450-million-year-old bedrock that was moved or blasted with gunpowder. An underground drainage system was installed to create ponds and lakes.

"They look like they're natural, but they're run by the city water system," says Sara Cedar Miller, the Central Park historian and photographer of "Central Park, an American Masterpiece."

"The landscape was redesigned and reconfigured to look natural, but it's anything but natural," she says, calling it all a "marriage of aesthetics and engineering."

Egalitarian vision
That natural look came at great cost -- 16 years of labor and $14 million for land and construction. (By comparison, the United States purchased Alaska for $9 million a few years later.)

And there was a human cost, too. Although Manhattan was largely undeveloped above 38th Street, more than 1,600 people were displaced to make way. Most were poor shanty dwellers but New York City's first significant community of property-owning black Americans, called Seneca Village, also was uprooted. The Croton Reservoir now floods that territory.

A Catholic school and convent were forced to relocate, too, becoming a residence for Olmsted and Vaux during the park's development. Two bone-boiling factories were closed, one on a site where the world-famous Tavern on the Green restaurant now serves a Dijon mustard, herb-crusted lamb for $36.

But if the poor were displaced to make way for Central Park, Olmsted and Vaux had an egalitarian vision -- a park entirely for public use, for both rich and poor.

"It was the greatest social democratic experiment of the 19th century, and every city in the nation wanted a public park like Central Park," Cedar Miller says. Cities such as Albany and Buffalo in New York state, Louisville, Kentucky, Montreal, Canada, Boston, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, California, all asked Olmsted and Vaux to design parks.

At the time, the need to escape the ills of urban life were great. New York City was a place "with horse manure covering everything, pollution worse than anything we have today ... the poor houses, the bad ventilation. Infant mortality was at its peak. So people came to the park because many of them were living in unhealthy conditions," Cedar Mills says.

Olmsted and Vaux believed "that nature brought everyone together," and that a public park "would soothe tensions," Cedar Mills adds.

Soothing oasis
The park still serves that purpose.

"It's our oasis from all this," says Bobbe Schwartz, gesturing toward the skyscrapers beyond the park walls as she walks her King Charles spaniel along a winding path near "Maine Memorial," a grand monument commemorating the sinking of the USS Maine during the Spanish-American War. "It's such a genteel place."

It hasn't always been. During the fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, the trees and gardens were untended, statues defaced, benches broken, bridges and other structures covered in graffiti. Most of the meadows and lawns turned to dust.

The park's reputation also has been marred by high-profile crimes, most notably the 1989 "wilding" attacks by gangs of youths against park-goers. A female investment banker was beaten and raped in the infamous "Central Park jogger" case that year.

"It was meant to be an oasis, a place to get away from it all, from the horrors of the city," says Cedar Mills. "And so whenever something bad happens there, people jump on it."

But today, under the stewardship of a private-public partnership formed 23 years ago, the park has the lowest crime rate of any precinct in the city. That partnership, the Central Park Conservancy, reinvigorated things and now offers an example to cities nationwide seeking to provide and maintain a natural respite amid urban bustle. The conservancy launched a massive restoration with $300 million in private and public donations to repair damage and neglect.

The conservancy restored the park's 55-acre Great Lawn "from a total dust ball to the beautiful lawn that you see today," says Regina Peruggi, the current president. By day, thousands use it as a ball field. During summer evenings, some 60,000 people crowd onto blankets and squish next to picnic baskets listening to the Metropolitan Opera or New York Philharmonic. Diana Ross, Elton John and Simon and Garfunkel also have entertained there.

Along with upgrades to playgrounds, fountains and statues, the conservancy dredged the Harlem Meer, an 11-acre lake in the northernmost part of the park. Now, its banks are draped with healthy willow boughs, the shores traced with wide paved paths that are clean and smooth enough for inline skating.

Peruggi says about $50 million of capital work still needs to be done. Major projects include the Bethesda Terrace lake, which will be dredged and its shoreline newly planted, and the 20-acre East Meadow on the northern end of the park, which will be restored from a dirt ball to a rolling meadow.

A model park
Other cities are again looking to Central Park, this time as a model to restore their parks.

Despite the unfinished work, the park is in a celebratory mood and ready for the millions of visitors to discover its secrets and wildlife: coyotes and a 2-foot caiman (a South American creature that resembles a crocodile) have been spotted, not to mention the pesky and ubiquitous Norway rat, raccoons and 215 species of birds.

"These birds come in, and they're looking down and see a sea of cement and then, suddenly, there's this great green rectangle, so they drop in," says Elliott, the park bird watcher who writes and illustrates a bimonthly newsletter. "They need water, food and rest, and they can get it all there."

Species rare to the area include the peregrine falcon, the orchard oriole and the warbler. Common loons and red-throated loons love the Central Park Reservoir, where they have 106 acres "to run like mad in order to get aloft," she says.

This summer they will be surrounded by the park's 150th celebration -- classical theater, music and dance performances under the sky -- and a big, all-day birthday bash July 19 featuring a bike race, archery championships and Andrea Bocelli in concert on the Great Lawn.

Cedar Miller calls Central Park "a work of art."

"It's an American icon, as great as the Statue of Liberty," she says.

June 9th, 2003, 10:41 PM
Text from http://www.centralparknyc.org/virtualpark/thegreatlawn/hernshead/

Hernshead is a miniature woodland landscape overlooking the Lake. The name "Hernshead" was derived from the shape of the prominent bedrock outcrop that punctuates the end of this small peninsula. To Olmsted and Vaux, its shape resembled the head of a heron ("hern" in its British translation). Olmsted lavished horticultural attention on this site, first with a grove of London plane trees and then with a variety of herbaceous plants and shrubs. Spring is Hernshead's season with blooming azaleas, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, and daffodils. Violets add diminutive dots of color amid the unfurling fern fronds. Most striking of all, in late June, is the copse of flowering white mountain laurel – a rare sight in Central Park.

A narrow pathway through the woods ends at a filigreed cast iron structure called "The Ladies Pavilion." Located earlier at Columbus Circle on the site of the Maine Monument to serve as a bus shelter, it was moved to Hernshead sometime after 1912. Like many of the Victorian vintage structures in the Park, it has elaborate ornamental detailing requiring consistent maintenance; the good news is that restoration is in the works with plans for ongoing care. The Ladies Pavilion provides a "time past" setting for admiring the vista of the Lake.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/images/central_park_ladies_pavilion_1may03.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/default.htm)

June 29th, 2003, 12:48 PM
Central Park cityscapes - the San Remo



June 29th, 2003, 12:49 PM
June 29, 2003

Reservoir's Sunken Fountain Is Rising From the Deep


The Central Park reservoir of has rarely been accused of flashiness. Most days, the 106-acre body of water is glassy calm or quietly rippled. Do not be deceived, though. Hidden beneath the reservoir's surface is a 35-foot-tall wooden platform built in 1917 that looks like an oil derrick and supports a nearly forgotten fountain.

Early this month, the city decided to resurrect the fountain as part of its celebration of the park's 150th anniversary on July 19. The fountain is actually a row of five nozzles that, once renovated, will spray up to 60 feet in the air. The spray will probably be illuminated at night by red, white and blue lights.

"Fountains are a great way to enliven a spot, and this one will certainly surprise New Yorkers who think they know the reservoir well," said Chris Ward, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection, which oversees the city's water supply.

The fountain first spouted on Oct. 12, 1917, during dedication ceremonies for the city's First Water Tunnel, which helped supply New Yorkers with fresh water from upstate. But the city soon turned it off because strong winds blew water from the plume onto too many well-dressed walkers along the reservoir's southern edge.

The fountain sat unused for almost 80 years, until the city began making plans in 1998 to celebrate construction of the Third Water Tunnel, which passes beneath the park. City planners discovered old photographs of the fountain and hired divers to investigate. Sure enough, the fountain nozzles were rusty, but the original platform was still in place. The city spent about $50,000 to renovate it.

Problem was, a drought began in the city that year. Only months after coming back, the fountain was shut off.

The city's reservoirs are brimming, so chances are good that the fountain will last at least until winter, when all city fountains are usually turned off. And the park reservoir, now named for Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, has plenty of water to supply the fountain because it no longer feeds into the city's water system, he said. About $5,000 will be spent this time to ready it by July 19, including temporarily lowering the water level for maintainance.

But, common sentiment aside, not everyone loves a fountain. Joan Schumacher, an Upper East Sider who likes to run around the reservoir, said the fountain's spray might mar the reflections of nearby apartment towers.

"I like the natural, mirror quality of the reservoir right now," she said, "and I don't think it's worth it to keep a fountain in the middle. Maybe other people thought so, too, and that's why we really buried it in the first place."

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

July 2nd, 2003, 02:48 PM
On the subject of the Reservoir, if you hate that view-busting chain link fence, good news. From a sign posted by the CP Conservancy:

...But the panorama has been obscured ever since the low ornamental fence was replaced with a high chain link version
in 1926.

A $2 million project is now underway to restore the historic fence. Made of steel with cast iron ornamentation, it will closely resemble the original fence that surrounded the 1.58 mile perimeter of the Reservoir. The restored fence will be four feet-8 inches above the running track - which exceeds city and state safety requirements. Magnificent views of the Park and surrounding skyline will be much enhanced.

Runners and walkers will be directed to the adjacent bridle path while sections of the running track are temporarily closed for construction.

Estimated completion of construction is fall 2003.

July 2nd, 2003, 03:53 PM
At the recently renovated Pool, a white egret - the only bird that poses.

Looks like a Japanese woodblock.


July 13th, 2003, 07:26 PM
Men & Machines

Giant ducklings attack US Navy cruiser.
It's on the internet, so it must be true.

July 13th, 2003, 09:26 PM
That looks like a destroyer. Ducklings would never fight a cruiser. They're not stupid, you know.

July 14th, 2003, 11:49 AM
I must be, because I don't know the difference.

July 14th, 2003, 12:32 PM
I think Gulcrapek has been reading Jane's.

I know it's a cruiser. I saw the captain. He had a hat.
USS Ticonderoga CG47.

The Mother of all Ducks was close by ready to pounce on the warship.

July 14th, 2003, 12:50 PM
Saw Elvis Costello on Friday night in Central Park's Summerstage. What a great place for a concert! Small, intimate and surrounded by trees.

July 19th, 2003, 12:34 AM
July 19, 2003

Fountain Revived for Central Park's 150th


It was a rare sight: plumes of water shooting 60 feet into the air yesterday from a fountain in the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Though the submerged fountain was built in 1917, this was only the third time it had been turned on.

But the joggers and power walkers who circled the reservoir in Central Park yesterday seemed unimpressed by the spray. Maybe the rubber tubing that buoyed the pipes put them off, but many said it lacked the grandeur of the Bethesda Fountain, 10 blocks to the south.

Not to worry. Turning on the reservoir fountain around 6:15 a.m. yesterday was only a starting pistol of sorts for the daylong party today to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Central Park. A century and a half ago this Monday, New York State claimed the land that was to become Central Park.

So today the park will brim with concentrating croquet players, instrument-playing police officers and loping mimes. And the reservoir fountain will still be gushing.

"It wasn't long ago that Central Park was an embarrassment, a national symbol of municipal failure," said Adrian Benepe, the city parks commissioner, referring to the years the park was neglected. "The odds were so stacked against it. Things were so bad. Now, it's a national symbol of municipal success."

But back to that fountain.

"It's a fairly average fountain," said Chevaun Stapleton, 20, of Sydney, Australia, as she strolled through the park with her brother and sister. They concurred.

"It's just water spitting up in the air," said the sister, Therese, 18. "I guess it adds something, but . . ."

"Not really," said brother Nick, 16.

Built to commemorate the Central Park reservoir, the fountain has had a tenuous life. It was shut down the year it was built after New Yorkers complained about being hit by the spray. Then after it was reactivated in 1998, the city again shut it off to conserve water during the parched years afterward.

Despite a rainy June, the fountain is operating only for the park's 150th anniversary. The spray will stop in another couple of months, said Christopher O. Ward, the city's commissioner of environmental protection.

A host of other activities and events will also fill the park today.

The athletic can learn lawn bowling and croquet at the Sheep Meadow or can join the New York Road Runners for a four-mile run/walk.

The Urban Park Rangers will give a historical tour, and a mock Revolutionary War encampment will be set up at the Great Hill.

And for the wistful, mimes, jugglers and magicians will circulate through the park.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

July 19th, 2003, 10:59 AM
The fountain in the Central Park reservoir was turned on yesterday for the third time in the park's 150 year history.

Schedule of Events (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/19/nyregion/19CLIS.html)

August 26th, 2003, 01:15 PM
The new fence:

The new fence will encircle The Reservoir

More Central Park: Belvedere Castle and the Turtle Pond


The Lake in August

From the outfield on the Great Lawn:

August 26th, 2003, 06:05 PM

August 26th, 2003, 09:27 PM
It is great that they are replacing the ugly chain fence unworthy of Central Park.

August 27th, 2003, 08:25 PM
They are likely spending a lot of extra money to ensure the relative fidelity of their historicist re-creation. I would have preferred a contemporary design, of course, but the consensus seems to be that Central Park must at all costs keep its original look, almost 150 years old.

October 29th, 2003, 09:18 AM
Completed section of Reservoir fence, Oct 28:

October 29th, 2003, 09:33 AM
Soothing view. I see they're still spouting water.

TLOZ Link5
October 29th, 2003, 11:26 AM
That looks wonderful.

November 2nd, 2003, 09:45 PM
Autumn Splendor (http://www.pbase.com/zippythechimp/cp_autumn)

November 2nd, 2003, 10:18 PM
Too pretty :?

TLOZ Link5
November 2nd, 2003, 10:27 PM
Too pretty :?

No such thing.

February 5th, 2004, 07:37 AM
Central Park at 150 (http://thecityreview.com/cpark.html)

February 5th, 2004, 07:56 AM
Great pictures !
Greatest park !
Best wishes for the next 150 !
Happy birthday from Germany !
Not too late i hope :wink:

August 22nd, 2004, 10:13 PM
Sheep Meadow Panorama (http://www.pbase.com/image/32892576/original)

August 23rd, 2004, 04:10 PM
Impressive! Exceptional clarity and (pre-protest calm).

August 24th, 2004, 12:45 PM
Yes, gorgeous photo! You don't often see sunshine on the north side of those buildings, nor an empty sheep meadow.

October 23rd, 2004, 05:31 AM
Nice photos. I searched for those using the forum search but couldn't find that thread :)

October 31st, 2004, 06:57 AM
October 31, 2004

Taking the Drive Out of Central Park


Almost four decades ago, city leaders forced the drivers who use the looping Central Park roadway to start sharing it with joggers and cyclists, first on weekends and later during the week as well. Now the joggers and cyclists are getting closer to having the road all to themselves.

Two recent traffic studies show that the number of cars that use the six-mile roadway has been diminishing - by at least 25 percent since 1991 - as the city has blocked entrances to the road and reduced the hours that taxis and cars can use it. One study by the Regional Plan Association has indicated that shutting down the roadway would not significantly increase traffic on major avenues outside the park, as some have ominously predicted.

Discussions are under way among New York City park and transportation officials about a trial starting as early as this spring in which three more vehicular entrances to the park would be blocked off and cars barred entirely between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m., except for the four transverses that cross the park. That would give trees a 12-hour break from fumes and add some car-free running time for late-night and early-rising joggers. The plan still requires the approval of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.

Nevertheless, the discussions suggest how far the pendulum, nudged by environmental and recreational pressures, has swung in two generations. The roadway that once helped speed taxis bearing East Siders and West Siders to and from their jobs, shops or the theaters in Midtown is increasingly yielding to joggers and bicyclists.

Any further closings are sure to anger the city's taxi industry, whose drivers rely on the loop as a shortcut around avenues like Fifth Avenue and Central Park West that are jammed during the rush. A majority of the cars that use the park road are taxis.

"In New York, time is money," said Mahmood Ahmed, a Pakistani immigrant who has been driving a cab for 15 years. "You waste time, you make less money. Everybody likes to fly."

But joggers, many of them training for the New York City Marathon a week from today, were delighted at the news. Andrea Achelis, who works for a jewelry designer, was running last Thursday in a sweatsuit near the southern end of the park shortly after the park roadway was closed at 10 a.m. The late October sunlight was slanting through the park's yellow and russet foliage.

"I try to wait until late so I don't have to jog with all the fumes," she said. "It's nice now. There are no fumes, it's quiet, and you can connect with nature. You can really enjoy the park."

Warner Johnston, a spokesman for the parks department, and Tom Cocola, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation, issued a statement Friday saying only that "several options to improve vehicular conditions in the park have been considered and continue to be considered."

Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, the private organization that manages the park under a city contract, said, "If a study supports that we can have some reduction of vehicular traffic in the park, I think that's terrific."

The talks among city officials do not touch upon the transverses that cross the park at 65th, 79th, 86th and 97th Streets, which carry significant volumes of cross-town traffic. Rather, they focus on the six-mile serpentine roadway built 150 years ago for carriages and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux as a way of bringing the gentry in touch with the masses.

By the mid-1960's, pressure from environmentalists and groups representing runners and cyclists closed the park to cars on weekends; in following years, the drive was also closed to cars at certain weekday times. Currently, the park is closed to cars all weekend and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. weekdays. A weekday exception is made for the branch of roadway that connects the entrance at Sixth Avenue and Central Park South to the one at East 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue; it remains open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

City officials have resisted shutting the park completely to cars, fearing that congestion on nearby avenues could create more pollution than a car ban would prevent. But in the past two decades, the Department of Parks and Recreation has closed off entrances to the roadway at West 110th Street, West 106th Street and Columbus Circle. Among the gateways now under consideration for closings are those at East 102nd Street, East 90th Street (except for exiting cars), and an exit ramp that runs from West 74th Street to West 72nd Street.

In recent years, joggers and cyclists have each had half a lane to the left of the two traffic lanes, though they have often complained that the strip is too narrow, causing them to bump into one another or stray perilously into the car lanes.

Transportation advocacy groups like the Regional Plan Association and Transportation Alternatives, as well as cycling and jogging clubs, have been pushing for a car-free park. Last Tuesday night more than 700 people packed the Unitarian Universalist Church on Central Park West to rally for that goal.

"We have lots of support from runners who want to use the park during the early-morning hours and health advocates for the children who can use the park after school and have nowhere else to go," said Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives.

A study for that organization and the Regional Plan Association by Jeffrey M. Zupan, a senior fellow of the association, tried to refute claims by opponents that closing the park loop permanently would clog adjacent avenues.

Mr. Zupan argued that as drivers and even taxi passengers become discouraged by the inability to use the loop, many might switch to mass transit. But even if there was no "disappearance," Mr. Zupan said, closing the most-used exit - the one that allows 1,457 southbound cars, or 24 per minute, to spill onto Seventh Avenue and into Midtown during a peak morning hour - would add at most only 4 more vehicles per minute to Fifth Avenue, which now has 33 cars per minute, and fewer to other southbound avenues. Traffic might also be eased by the absence of cars making turns into or out of the park, he said.

Another study of the Central Park roadway several months ago whose contents were made known to The New York Times found that simply closing more entrances would reduce traffic. The study counted the cars entering the park at eight gateways between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m. and found that at some, the volume was more than 50 percent lower than it was during a comparable study done for the city's Transportation Department in 1991. On average, the combined decline at all eight gateways was 26.2 percent.

Michael Woloz, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Taxi Board of Trade, which represents fleet owners, said his members and drivers would be upset by further closings.

"They have a shortcut mentality,'' he said, "and if you take away a shortcut, you're going to get resistance and complaints from the driver community."

Even some joggers are not unalloyed supporters of a car-free park. Richard Edwards, a 48-year-old art dealer who was running Thursday with his wire fox terriers, Max and Emma, said that as a jogger he would appreciate less access for cars. But as a traveling businessman who likes to return quickly to his home on Central Park South, "it's much easier going through the park when you're coming from La Guardia Airport."

"So I see the benefits of both," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

A few years ago in an article about efforts to close the park to traffic, it was mentioned that the Central Park Conservancy was curiously neutral on this issue.

The banning of traffic would not eliminate the roadway, which would still be open for maintenance and emergency vehicles, but the roadway could be re-lined to separate cyclists and pedestrians.

It's obvious to anyone who has used the park regularly for more than a decade that traffic has been reduced considerably.

It's hard to visualize now, but there was once an entrance road at Columbus Circle.

Traffic in the park disrupts the experience, and I think those two fellas would be perplexed if they were here to see it.

November 17th, 2004, 09:33 PM
Bethesda Terrace (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/central_park_bethesda.htm) - 31 October 2004.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/bethesda/bethesda_terrace.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/central_park_bethesda.htm)

November 22nd, 2004, 08:45 PM
NYC.gov (http://www.nyc.gov/portal/index.jsp?pageID=nyc_home)

DOT and Parks to Increase Car Free Hours in Central Park; and Introduce New Hov 2+ Plan as Part of Holiday Traffic Plan

Sunday, November 21, 2004
Release #04-138

The New York City Departments of Transportation and Parks & Recreation announced today a series of steps the City will take to increase recreational use of Central Park. These steps include reducing the speed limit on Park drives, permanently closing a number of entrances and exits and reducing the number of hours the Park is open to vehicles. The changes will be phased in during the next few weeks, with full implementation expected by Monday, January 3, 2005, once the City's holiday traffic plan is no longer in effect. Also as part of the holiday plan, for the first time, a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) restriction will be in effect during the morning rush hour on the Park's West Drive.

Vehicles will now only be allowed on the Park's East and West drives between the hours of 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. As part of this initiative, Central Park will be closed to motor vehicles during the overnight hours from 7pm to 7am and will remain closed between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. As a result, early morning recreational users will have the exclusive use of the drives to themselves. The overnight closures will begin on Monday, January 3, 2005. Also, the speed limit on the Park drives has now been lowered to 25 mph from 30 mph.

In addition DOT and Parks & Recreation will be closing a number of exits and entrances to vehicular traffic, including:

-West 90th Street entrance and exit;
-West 77th Street entrance;
-East 102nd Street entrance and exit;
-East 90th Street entrance; and
-West 72nd Street slip-off ramp at Strawberry Fields.

These closures will improve overall traffic flow within the Park, minimize potential pedestrian/vehicle conflicts, and make available additional space for non-vehicular uses. All closures are expected to be in place by Monday, November 29, 2004.

In addition on November 29, DOT will implement an HOV 2+ Program along the West Drive (between the Lenox Avenue entrance and the Seventh Avenue exit) during the morning (7am to 10am) peak period. By requiring motorists to have at least one other passenger, the HOV 2+ program will encourage car-pooling and reduce congestion and vehicle volumes. During the restricted hours, only vehicles with two or more occupants will be permitted to enter the Park's West Drive.

On November 29, as in previous years, the Central Park holiday traffic plan will be in effect. Weekday road closures, from 10am to 3pm and 7pm to 10pm will be suspended until the New Year.

"The new Park Drive hours, coupled with the reduced number of entries into and exits from the park, will make Central Park even more of a haven from the bustle of urban life," said Commissioner Benepe. "We are pleased to be working with the Department of Transportation and Central Park Conservancy to build upon our past successes in enhancing the recreational use of the park."

"We believe these changes will help create a better balance between recreational and motorized uses of Central Park," said DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall. "Our new HOV initiative will encourage car-pooling and reduce congestion, and we are pleased to include it in our holiday traffic plan."

"Any opportunity to implement an initiative that makes the Park safer for the public and increases recreational use benefits Central Park and all of its users," said Doug Blonsky, President of the Central Park Conservancy and Central Park Administrator.

mr. big
November 23rd, 2004, 04:44 PM
The East side of the park has a different feel than the West side to me. They are both representative of the neighborhoods.

March 6th, 2005, 11:55 AM
March 6, 2005


Park Predecessors

By MICHAEL POLLAK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=MICHAEL%20POLLAK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=MICHAEL%20POLLAK&inline=nyt-per)

Q. When I was visiting "The Gates," I got to wondering: Are there any structures in Central Park older than the park itself?

A. There are two. One is the Arsenal Building, at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue, which is now the headquarters of the city's Parks and Recreation Department. It was built between 1847 and 1851 by the state as a repository for munitions. In 1857, shortly before work on Central Park began, the city bought the Arsenal and removed all arms. It later served as a police station, a natural history museum and a menagerie, among other functions.

The other building is the Blockhouse, near the park's northern end. It was built hurriedly in 1814 after the British stormed Stonington, Conn., in the War of 1812, and New Yorkers suddenly realized that an attack could come from the east or north. The British never attacked. In peacetime the Blockhouse was used to store ammunition. By the time this area of the park was designed, it was treated as a picturesque ruin.

E-mail: fyi@nytimes.com (fyi@nytimes.com)

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

March 17th, 2005, 12:08 PM
The National Geographic's February issue(I believe)has an interesting article about Frederick Law Olmstead and the numerous parks he designed.
While his masterpiece is Central Park(or,as some could argue quite effectively,Brooklyn's Prospect Park),he also created a number of equally stunning parks in other cities,notably the Rochester Parks system,Buffalo's grand parks and parkways,Boston's outstanding green spaces,and urban parks in cities far from the Eastern Seaboard,like Milwaukee and Louisville.
I grew up in Rochester,and came to realize at a very young age how special the parks in that city were.Olmstead-and sometimes collaberator Calvert Vaux-worked the same type of magic on Durand-Eastman's expanse as they did in New York,creating a lakeside park that becomes heavily sculpted,rocky and wooded as you move away from the shore,and with Cobb's Hill Park,site of Rochester's old municipal reservoir and one of the highest points within city limits.
He laid out Highland Park,with it's crystal Arboretum,as a formal garden open to the masses,and today it is home to the spectacular Lilac Festival,a stunningly beautiful celebration of Springtime.
The City's marvelous Seneca Park,located in and along 3-4 miles of a deep gorge carved by the Genesee River north of Downtown,contains Rochester's zoo and miles of steep,wooded trails.
Olmstead's landscapes may all be marvelous fakes,mimicing the natural environs they replaced,but each one I've visited is a jewel,a real urban asset.
Lucky is the city that is fortunate enough to host his work.

April 27th, 2005, 01:09 PM
Keeping Great Crowds Off Central Park's Great Lawn


Francesca Keeler, 5, seemed to have Central Park's Great Lawn to herself Tuesday.

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=TIMOTHY WILLIAMS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=TIMOTHY WILLIAMS&inline=nyt-per)

April 27, 2005

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/t.gifhe city's Parks Department wants to limit gatherings on the Great Lawn in Central Park to 50,000 people, a move that would end an era in which hundreds of thousands of people turned to the park as a place to protest, or to see the pope, Pavarotti and Simon and Garfunkel, officials said yesterday.

The proposal, which has not been widely disseminated and requires no other approval but the department's, would also cap the number of events on the Great Lawn to six each year, with four of those reserved for the annual performances of the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic. Parks officials say those musical programs draw "passive" audiences who go easy on the lawn's Kentucky bluegrass.

The other two events would have to be held during a four-week period in August and September.

The Parks Department said the rules would simply formalize what has been its informal policy since 1997, when the city spent $18.2 million to restore the 13-acre Great Lawn, which for years had been more dust bowl than lawn.

But Adrian Benepe, the parks commissioner, acknowledged that he was led to formalize the rules by the city's court battle last summer with an antiwar group that sought to use the lawn for a rally that was expected to draw as many as 250,000 people.

"You have two choices," Mr. Benepe said. "You can have unlimited, large-scale events, or you can have nice grass, but you can't have both.

"It was unlimited use that destroyed the park in the old days, so if you want the city's backyard to be in good shape, you have got to put limitations on its use," the commissioner said.

Opponents of the policy, however, say something is lost if Luciano Pavarotti cannot sing before a half-million people in the park as he did in 1993, or the pope can no longer celebrate Mass for 125,000, as John Paul II did in 1995.

"We've got to make sure, that No. 1, the limits are for the greater good and not meant to deter certain groups," said Councilwoman Helen Foster, chairwoman of the City Council's Parks and Recreation Committee. "We've got to make sure that we are not limiting what we expose New York City residents to."

The Parks Department published its proposed new rules on April 18 in The City Record, a daily publication in which city agencies announce public hearings. The policy change would not require the approval of the Council, although the department has scheduled a public hearing on the issue for May 20 at the Chelsea Recreation Center.

Currently, the Parks Department does not expressly limit the number of people allowed on the Great Lawn for gatherings, and there are no limits on the number of events held there. Permission to assemble is granted case by case when groups apply for permits. Any group with more than 20 people requires a permit.

The Great Lawn is the only spot in the park where gatherings of more than 50,000 people have been permitted in recent years. A concert by the Philharmonic or an opera performance draws a maximum of about 50,000, representatives from the organizations said; the last big event on the lawn, a 2003 concert by the Dave Matthews Band, drew 80,000.

The new policy would limit events on the lawn to a four-week period from the third week of August through the second week of September, with the exception of the opera and Philharmonic performances, which are held annually in June and July. Mr. Benepe said the monthlong window for new events was intended to give the grass a chance to recover between big gatherings.

A spokesman for United for Peace and Justice, which lost its fight with the city last August to hold a huge antiwar rally on the Great Lawn during the Republican National Convention, said the proposed rules were aimed squarely at preventing groups like his from holding large political demonstrations in the park.

"This would set in stone their institutional attitude about protests," said the spokesman, Bill Dobbs. "In Manhattan, nearly every square foot is covered with buildings, so the park is the town common, where people have assembled for generations. Now the Bloomberg administration is seeking to maintain it as a lawn museum."

The group has received a permit for a May 1 rally at the Heckscher Ballfields in the park to support global nuclear disarmament and end the war in Iraq. Mr. Dobbs said that as many as 50,000 people were expected to attend the protest. The fields are scheduled to be restored this fall, and after that large gatherings there would be prohibited, parks officials said.

Mr. Dobbs said it was particularly unfair that so many of the large-scale events on the Great Lawn would be opera and Philharmonic performances. "To give the symphony and opera four of the six - the bulk of them - shows the class of people whose interests are being protected," he said.

But the city makes distinctions between what it calls passive users (those who sit, drink wine and listen) and active users (those who dance, march or simply stand on the park's delicate grass).

Mr. Benepe said that while classical-music lovers have caused almost no harm to the Great Lawn over the years, the Dave Matthews concert caused $120,000 worth of damage to the grass.

"The day of the mega-event is over in Central Park," said Mr. Benepe, who added that the Matthews concert had taught him a lesson.

In the park yesterday, the proposed changes received a mixed reaction.

Morgan Storms, 26, a fifth grade teacher, said the rules did not make much sense.

"It seems awfully silly to base a law like that on grass that will grow back," said Ms. Storms. "It's like cutting your hair. It grows back, right?"

But Gavin Keeler, 42, a legal assistant playing soccer with his two young daughters, remembered the bad old days, when a walk across the Great Lawn sometimes meant a face full of dust.

"If it's a question between six events a year that are not going to harm it, and a couple of free-for-alls that are going to harm it, I'll take the limits," he said.


Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass for 125,000 people on the Great Lawn in 1995. Events of that size would no longer be allowed under new rules.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

TLOZ Link5
April 27th, 2005, 05:16 PM
They've got to be kidding. First the Republican Convention, now this.

April 27th, 2005, 05:46 PM
Seems like the national mall in washington survives alright. The city definitely needs a large-scale public space.

April 27th, 2005, 07:35 PM
I've actually been to the National Mall in Washington recently and I can tell you that there is hardly any grass there, especially following a big event. Mostly dirt and random patches of bad grass. Definitely not something I'd like see happen to the Great Lawn. Then again, I still think the occasional big event won't damage it that much.

May 2nd, 2005, 08:14 AM
"It seems awfully silly to base a law like that on grass that will grow back," said Ms. Storms. "It's like cutting your hair. It grows back, right?"

May 2, 2005


Saying No to 250,000 on the Lawn

By JOYCE PURNICK (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=JOYCE PURNICK&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=JOYCE PURNICK&inline=nyt-per)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/t.gifWO years ago in late September, the Dave Matthews Band held a successful concert on Central Park's Great Lawn that drew more than 80,000 fans.

But park records show that the Great Lawn was damaged by those fans, who stood on their feet, danced in place and surged forward, compacting the grass. Six of the lawn's softball fields needed repair, at a cost of $130,000.

The money was no problem, since the concert's organizers had posted a bond. But while two of the damaged fields reopened to limited use in three weeks, the four others were closed for the rest of the season and through the winter. Doug Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, said on Friday that if the concert had taken place earlier in the year, "six of the lawn's eight softball fields would have been closed for the season."

And so - the newly proposed policy of the Department of Parks and Recreation: Only six large events will be allowed each season on the Great Lawn, including two free concerts each by the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, and a maximum of 50,000 people at any of those. That means that the Simon and Garfunkel concerts, papal masses and political protests that drew as many as a half-million people to the park are history.

This plan has not gone down well, especially since the Department of Parks and Recreation whispered its proposal by publishing it in The City Record, a dry daily for municipal legal-type notices. That put the department and its commissioner, Adrian Benepe, on the defensive when the news got out. Public relations 101, anyone?

But the proposal, which has drawn objections from some elected officials and protest organizers, would not have won universal acceptance no matter how it was announced.

This is New York. A choice between a green lawn or mass popular entertainment? Between softball or the exercise of free speech?

New Yorkers want it all. But as in other realms, maybe they cannot have it all, at least not in the same location.

Last summer, a protest against the Republican National Convention became a march in city streets rather than a rally on the Great Lawn because - to much criticism, some in this space - the Bloomberg administration would not let the protesters onto the lawn.

This summer, Billy Graham wanted to hold his three-day New York crusade on the Great Lawn. The Parks Department offered Flushing Meadows Park instead, and that's where it will be next month - in Queens.

Central Park is the city's backyard, but, as in other matters (think stadium) one does have to wonder why everything has to be in Manhattan.

THE city started to get fussy about the Great Lawn after its $18.2 million restoration in 1997. The lawn - a defunct section of the park reservoir - was landfill before that, claylike dirt from excavation for the Empire State Building and other projects. It was a dust bowl on some days, basins of puddles on others.

It wasn't maintained well - maybe it couldn't be - and protests, concerts and "happenings" were commonplace. Then came the restoration, with its drainage and irrigation system and carpet of Kentucky bluegrass.

Isn't grass just grass, and doesn't grass always grow back?

Not necessarily, said A. Martin Petrovic, professor of turfgrass science at Cornell University's Horticulture Department.

Dr. Petrovic, a consultant on the lawn's restoration, explained that when blades of grass are destroyed, they will generally come back, but more severe damage can kill the plant's roots.

"It's the degree of damage," Dr. Petrovic said in an interview. "I've been in demonstrations and to rock concerts - people's feet are moving around; they can't stand still." The restored lawn, he continued, cannot tolerate the sustained weight of 250,000 people.

If the grass's roots go, the area needs resodding, and it can take two months for the sod's roots to knit into the soil below.

There are options. Lawns like those on professional baseball fields recover from damage quickly, but require intensive, and costly, maintenance. And platforming - installing temporary plastic grates over the lawn to disperse the weight -could work, Dr. Petrovic suggested. But it, too, is very expensive.

Those or other alternatives will inevitably be raised at a public hearing on the proposal later this month. Or maybe New Yorkers will have to accept that they truly cannot always have it all.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

July 13th, 2005, 12:44 AM
New Yorkers sunbathing in Sheep Meadow (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/sheep_meadow.htm). 4 July 2005.

http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/sheep_meadow/sheep_meadow_4july05.jpg (http://www.wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/sheep_meadow.htm)

January 14th, 2006, 09:37 PM
Looking for photos, drawings, etc. of the on-going Heckscher Playground renovation.

Here's info from Landmark's Prevervation Commission website, regarding the proposal that was the basis for the current renovation:

Decision - Advisory Report for Central Park, Manhattan Docket 03-6167


TEL: 212 669-7700
FAX: 212 669-7780

ISSUE DATE:06/03/2003
DOCKET #:03-6167
CRA #:CRA 03-7411

This report is issued pursuant to Sections 3020 and 854 (h) of the New York City Charter and Section 25-318 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York, which require a report from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for certain plans for the construction, reconstruction, alteration, or demolition of any improvement or proposed improvement which is owned by the City or is to be constructed upon property owned by the City and is or is to be located on a landmark site or in a historic district or which contains an interior landmark.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, at the Public Meeting of June 3, 2003, following the Public Hearing of the same date, voted to issue a favorable report with certain reservations for a preliminary design for the alteration of the landscape surrounding the Historic Playground, at the southwest corner of Central Park, as put forward in your application completed on May 1, 2003.

The proposal, as approved, consists of the reconfiguration and realignment of existing paths, the reconstruction of drainage systems, the installation of plantings, the restoration of the Heckscher Building as the primary entrance to the playground, the installation of fencing, the installation of a soft surface play area in the center of the playground, the restoration of the ball fields, the installation of a wooden pergola with seating wall, the installation of new benches, the creation of a picnic area, the restoration of the Adventure style Playgrounds, and the replacement of some playground equipment; as described in the Project Advisory dated March 2003, photographs, and drawings labeled The Historic Playground Landscape, The Historic Playground Landscape Existing Conditions, The Historic Playground Landscape Landscape Analysis, all prepared by the Central Park Conservancy, submitted as components of the application, and presented at the Public Hearing and the Public Meeting.

In reviewing this proposal, the Commission noted that the designation report for the Central Park Scenic Landmark describes Central Park as an English Romantic style public park designed in 1856 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The Commission also noted that the area known as the Historic Playground is approximately 30 acres; that it was originally designed in 1858 as recreation grounds for a variety of field games for children; that it was modified as the Hechsher Playground in 1926 to become the first permanent play space in Central Park designed exclusively for children, including a wading pool, state of the art play equipment, and a recreation building. In 1936, the Playground was overhauled, the wading pool redone, hard asphalt was introduced, the pavilion building was doubled in size, and the open meadow was converted to formal ball fields. Also in the ‘30s, the Spur Rock Arch in the southern end of the site was demolished and a portion of the bridle path was removed. The Playground was again modified with the introduction of a toddler Adventure style playground in 1969, and in 1972, the wading pool was converted to an Adventure water playground.

With regard to this proposal, the Commission found that the realignment of paths and the elimination of desire lines will create a logical circulation system, will renovate the drainage system, will create fresh areas of greenery, and will be consistent with the general design conception of the park; that the reconstruction of paths and landscapes will utilize standard park materials and site features; that the work will bring the northern portion of the site closer to its original design; that the termination of the bridle path south of Pinebank Arch will not damage or alter any historic path; that the introduction of a picnic area with wood chip ground cover, split rail fence and wooden picnic benches will harmonize with the landscape; that the the proposed modifications to the pavilion building will bring it closer to its orignal appearance; that relocating the main entrance to the playground through the altered pavilion will return this feature to its original purpose; that the introduction of a pergola with seating wall overlooking a soft surface play area in the center of the Playground will eliminate a large swath of barren concrete and will return the Playground to a condition more in keeping with its original intent; that the restoration and modification of the existing playgrounds within the historic Playground landscape will return these amenities to first class working order; that the restoration of the Adventure water play area will reestablish a feature which existed as a water play area since the 1920s; and the cumulative effect of this proposal will enhance the special character of the Central Park Scenic Landmark. Based on these findings, the Commission determined the proposed work to be appropriate and voted to issue a positive report, with certain qualifications.

However, in voting to approve this work, the Commission required that the Central Park Conservancy reconsider the use of artificial turf at the center of the playground, and if possible, substitute a natural soft surface material. The Commission also required that the details for the termination of the bridle path, the removal of certain desire lines, and the design of the fencing return to the Commission for review upon further design development.

This permit is issued on the basis of the building and site conditions described in the application and disclosed during the review process. By accepting this permit, the applicant agrees to notify the Commission if the actual building or site conditions vary or if original or historic building fabric is discovered. The Commission reserves the right to amend or revoke this permit, upon written notice to the applicant, in the event that the actual building or site conditions are materially different from those described in the application or disclosed during the review process.

All approved drawings are marked approved by the Commission with a perforated seal indicating the date of approval. The work is limited to what is contained in the perforated documents. Other work or amendments to this filing must be reviewed and approved separately. The applicant is hereby put on notice that performing or maintaining any work not explicitly authorized by this permit may make the applicant liable for criminal and/or civil penalties, including imprisonment and fines. This report constitutes the permit; a copy must be prominently displayed at the site while work is in progress. Please direct inquiries to Providencia Velazquez.

Robert B. Tierney

cc: Douglas Blonsky, Central Park; Ed Benson, Central Park Conservancy; Caroline Kane Levy, Deputy Director, LPC; Deborah Bershad, Art Commission

Issued: 6/3/03
DOCKET: 03-6167

February 23rd, 2006, 03:04 PM
New York Sun
February 23, 2006

Central Park's Constant Gardener

Lunch at the Four Seasons

By PRANAY GUPTE - Special to the Sun

Douglas Blonsky is Central Park's constant gardener.

"That's some job," the New Jersey-born administrator of the 147-year-old park said yesterday. "All day, every day."

It means working with 250 full-time staffers and 3,000 volunteers. It means raising much of the park's annual $25 million budget. It means nurturing a vast cohort of donors - not only the big-money kind, some of whose families have been involved with the park for several generations, but also 20,000 New Yorkers who pay between $35 and $1,000 a year for the privilege of being formal supporters of Central Park.

It means dealing with 25 million visitors annually who use Central Park's 50 entrances to stroll, jog, romance, and gambol in an area that is 2 1/2 miles long and half a mile wide. It means supervising more than 1,000 public events, ranging from performances of the Metropolitan Opera to the New York City Marathon.

"It means being the human face of the park," Mr. Blonsky said, with a smile that suggested advanced enthusiasm.

Mr. Blonsky's job actually consists of two assignments: In addition to being administrator, he is president of the not-for-profit organization that manages Central Park under a contract with the city, the Central Park Conservancy.

The words "job" and "assignments," however, don't quite capture what it is Mr. Blonsky does.

Consider this: He is the supernumerary of an 843-acre park with 26,000 trees of 165 different species, including 4,262 Black Cherry, all self-seeded, none planted; 1,834 American Elms, one of the finest collections in America; 1,318 London Planes; 1,724 Pin Oaks; 1,632 Black Locust; 1,310 Norway Maple; 953 Sycamore Maple; 757 Red Oak; 549 Ginkgo, and 407 Turkey Oak.

When one counts Central Park's 4 million shrubs, lawns, and hedges, that's another 1,500 species of flora under Mr. Blonsky's care as Central Park's constant gardener. And there are 275 species of migratory birds that inhabit the park, which is on the Atlantic Flyway.

"Constant gardener" may not even capture the essence of his contribution to the park since he joined the conservancy 21 years ago. Although he blanches at the seemingly hyperbolic characterization, a more appropriate term would be "savior."

When Mr. Blonsky came to New York, armed with a bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from Rutgers University and another bachelor's degree in horticulture from the University of Delaware, Central Park was a mess. Virtually all of its structures, including Belvedere Castle, had been defaced by graffiti. Its 9,000 benches - which, if placed end to end, would run seven miles - were dilapidated. Its 36 bridges and arches were falling apart. Its seven ornamental fountains and 120 drinking basins were crumbling. Muggings were commonplace, even in daylight. The 6-foot-deep lake at 72nd Street was filled with detritus. The blue grass had withered, and the lawns were parched.

"I was amazed that the park was in such poor condition," Mr. Blonsky said.

His distress was heightened by the fact that Central Park had its own folklore and its own special place in the life of New York City.

Growing up in Morristown, N.J., as the son of a MetLife employee, George Blonsky, and his wife, Kathryn, a Spanish-language teacher, Mr. Blonsky had always been encouraged to be outdoors. Douglas, the youngest of four children, helped out in his parents' garden, where roses and rhododendrons were in abundance. Central Park was a metaphor for an advanced urban civilization and a great city's lungs.

By the time Mr. Blonsky came to New York, he was familiar with the park's history. The city had commissioned the designer and writer Frederick Law Olmsted and the English architect Calvert Vaux to create Central Park out of a vast area of scrubland, swamps, boulders, and some farmland. Some $5 million had been allocated for the project, which involved bringing in 10 million cartloads of soil and seedlings. By 1873, Central Park was completed.

By 1980, however, it had deteriorated to the point where nothing short of a master plan was needed to rehabilitate it.

"All that history, all that wonderful greenery - Central Park had been taken for granted," Mr. Blonsky said. "Our master plan was more than a rescue operation. It was total rehabilitation."

Over the next 25 years, some $320 million was raised for the project from the private sector. One of Mr. Blonsky's acclaimed innovations was to create 49 "zones" for the park. Each zone would have a multidisciplinary team attached to it, and the team would be responsible for its upkeep.

Spurred by the conservancy's 52-member board, Mr. Blonsky and his associates introduced what were then considered technological novelties such as walkie-talkies. Vehicles were bought that could easily access all parts of the uneven terrain. Mr. Blonsky's wife, Mai Allen, a landscape architect and former Parks employee - whom he met in Central Park - was often a source of design ideas.

With the assistance of allies such as Betsy Barlow Rogers, Ira Millstein, Norma Dana, and Richard Gilder, among others, the conservancy's endowment rose to more than $100 million.

New York being New York, of course, a public-service enterprise rarely can escape politics, especially a highly visible, iconic presence such as Central Park. So how was Mr. Blonsky to effect his innovations without suffering political interference?

"Well, it helped that I was an outsider to the city," he said. "Some of our donors and board members handled the political part."A former Parks commissioner, Henry Stern, "a political animal if ever there was one, was a wonderful ally," he said.

"I also received great cooperation from various mayors, especially Mayor Bloomberg, and his Parks commissioner - and my good friend - Adrian Benepe. My message always was, 'It's everybody's park.' It's hard for people to be partisan over Central Park - passionate, yes, but partisan? No."

In the spirit of such nonpartisanship, Mr. Blonsky hopes to be able to create a special high school that will inculcate in students a love for the landscape.

"Central Park's presence in New York's life is forever assured," Mr. Blonsky said. "But wouldn't it be nice if we trained young people to look after the city's great asset?"

© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.

February 25th, 2006, 12:49 PM
Fill in all but a small portion of the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. It's not much of an asset as it is.

February 25th, 2006, 01:02 PM
Whaaaaaaa ??? ^^

Big asset for the birds ;)

February 25th, 2006, 01:13 PM
There's still Harlem Meer and several other lakes, all of which have much better shorelines for birds.

February 25th, 2006, 01:55 PM
Whoa! Can't do that, ablarc.

The Reservoir is on standby, but still part of the city water supply. In one of the stages of a drought emergency, I think just before the Chelsea Pumping Station draws water out of the Hudson, it is brought back into service.

At present, the Reservoir water is used to maintain water levels in the Pool, Meer, etc.

If you run on the Reservoir track, you know how much the water cools the surrounding area.

February 25th, 2006, 02:03 PM
Sure, and those fairly modest functions can probably be taken up by newly-built facilities elsewhere outside the city. It would take money and the will, but what doesn't?

February 25th, 2006, 02:27 PM
As per a 1997 agreement, the city is already expanding water supply facilities upstate. Removing the Reservoir, which is probably the easiest water source to control, would needlessly take a billion gallons out of the system. A waste of money.

I don't know how you would cool the park from outside the city.

February 25th, 2006, 02:34 PM
Well, just a suggestion for how to have both a lawn and a gathering place for half-a-million...

Everyone's got their priorities. Some folks want their lawn, some want their gatherings, some want their park cooler by a degree or two, some want lower taxes, on and on...

Can't please everybody.

March 8th, 2006, 07:57 PM
The renovated Heckscher Playground has re-opened and it's beauty ...

New benches, great rubberized asphalt around the play areas and under the climbing structures, huge sand pit with new swings, and other great amenities.

Some of he plantings around the perimeter as well as the pergola have yet to be finished.

Should be a fun summer!

May 7th, 2006, 06:17 AM
May 7, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Close the Loop

THIS Tuesday, the New York City Council has scheduled a hearing on proposed legislation that would end motor vehicle traffic within Central Park — for the summer, at least — and it's about time.

New York City, like many urban areas, sacrificed much during the 20th century to make way for the automobile. Expressways destroyed thriving neighborhoods. Streets were widened, sidewalks steadily narrowed, and the playground was born as a substitute to what had been children's natural play space: the street outside their homes. But of all the sacrifices to suit the needs of automobiles and their drivers, few have been more incongruous than the invasion of that most hallowed of public spaces, New York's Central Park.

In the 1850's when a design contest was held for Central Park, one of the requirements was the inclusion of at least four public streets that traversed the park. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won the competition in large part because of their ingenious scheme for meeting that requirement in a design that created the illusion of countryside within the city.

As Olmsted's biographer, Witold Rybczynski, tells us, Central Park's architects knew that "city traffic would have been a noisy and dangerous intrusion and would have destroyed the effect of country scenery," so they placed the four required public streets in large excavated trenches, eight feet below ground, creating what we now call the transverses.

Olmsted and Vaux also created a winding, bucolic carriage road that was as vital to the overall feel of the park as its lakes, woods and verdant expanses. But they had no idea that with the coming of the automobile, their pastoral drive would be transformed into a crowded, noisy thoroughfare. Soon after automobiles gained access to the north-south carriage road in 1899, the park essentially became a convenient shortcut to Midtown.

Today, those who come to Central Park seeking a refuge from the city to walk, run, cycle or skate on the park's loop road find themselves restricted to a narrow lane during prime recreational hours. With the constant jockeying for position that occurs among the lane's users, collisions between users or with cars that edge into the lanes are frequent.

Over the last few decades, as the recreational use of Central Park's loop road has boomed, public officials have been slowly returning it to the city dwellers for whom it was intended. Car-free hours have been increased and some vehicle entrances closed. But in a city of constant traffic, noise and toxic emissions, it is a shame that our elected officials haven't let Central Park be one area where their constituents can get away from it all.

The legislation that will be heard this week to ban vehicles during the summer, when traffic is lightest, is a step in the right direction, but ideally, the Central Park loop should be closed to cars all year round. Those who object to this idea claim that it will worsen congestion on surrounding streets. But that's not true.

In fact, closing the park to cars should alleviate the city's congestion woes because of what traffic researchers call "shrinkage." Right now, the Central Park loop is an enticement to drive to Midtown. If the loop were closed for a sustained period, experts predict, the traffic would shrink. According to the Regional Plan Association, closing the loop would eventually induce 20 percent to 60 percent of the drivers who now use the park to switch to other transportation or significantly modify their driving patterns.

In 2001, Mayor Michael Bloomberg campaigned on a platform of reducing private automobile use. He should acknowledge that closing Central Park's loop is one painless way to accomplish this by supporting the legislation and even calling for a year-round ban. Yes, a few drivers will be inconvenienced and may well have to consider alternatives like mass transit, but isn't that good public policy? Moreover, ridding Central Park of traffic would be an important symbol to the rest of the country and the world that New Yorkers are willing to place sensible limits on the use of cars.

New Yorkers owe an incalculable debt to the people who ran our city in the mid-19th century. When they carved out and carefully designed great tracts of open land amid a growing and bustling city, they understood that every resident, rich or poor, young or old, needed an occasional respite from the unremitting din of urban life. Central Park is a glorious example of this enterprise. But sadly, we have squandered this gift by allowing it to do double duty as a traffic artery. It is now up to us to reclaim that gift.

Kenneth M. Coughlin is a board member of Transportation Alternatives, a cycling, walking and public transit advocacy group.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

May 7th, 2006, 08:59 AM
^ Hear, hear!

May 16th, 2006, 07:21 AM
Spring at the Conservatory Garden
http://img146.imageshack.us/img146/8086/convgarden012kt.th.jpg (http://img146.imageshack.us/my.php?image=convgarden012kt.jpg)

July 16th, 2006, 02:41 AM
July 16, 2006
Central Park
Restoring Vaux’s Vision, One Tile at a Time

OF the joggers, stroller-pushers and tourists who passed the Bethesda Fountain on Central Park’s 72nd Street Drive on a humid morning last week, few noticed all the activity going on just below their feet, in the cavernous sandstone passage known as the Bethesda Terrace Arcade.

Of course, there hadn’t been much to notice in the space since 1984, when workers removed the nearly 16,000 intricately patterned clay tiles from the ceiling, directly under the transverse, for restoration.

The tiles, which were designed in part by Calvert Vaux, were in worse shape than anyone had thought, and the Central Park Conservancy, the nonprofit group that manages the park, lacked the money to restore them. The 49 ceiling panels, which were completed in 1868 and were part of the original park plan, went into storage, where most of them stayed for 20 years.

The conservancy restored and remounted two of the panels in 1998, and in 2002, Evelyn West, a Brooklyn Heights resident with a longstanding interest in historic preservation, bequeathed $3.5 million to the conservancy to finish the job. Now, workers have added new waterproofing to the roof and are hanging three more of the restored one-ton panels this month for inspection by city agencies.

Meanwhile, conservancy technicians are working in a shed and a trailer in the park just north of the Ramble, inspecting each tile, with an array of cleaning fluids, paints and putties at the ready. The restored arcade should be open to the public by the end of the year.

“It’s a rare thing to be able to say you’re doing a preservation undertaking of this magnitude — and we’re doing it right here in the park,” Douglas Blonsky, the conservancy president, said last week.

In the trailer, one technician, Elizabeth Saetta, said the hardest tiles to clean were those stained with rust from the roadway supports — removing the rust can take a month. Fixing a chip with putty can take two or three days. On average, the restoration team has cleaned four 324-tile panels a month; because some tiles, handmade in England by the Minton Company, are damaged beyond repair, the ceiling will include several panels of new tiles made with the same techniques.

In general, though, the original roof is in good shape. “It lasted 140, 150 years — that ain’t bad,” Mr. Blonsky said, “considering there was a lot of water, a lot of salt, a wet location that never dried out.”

James Reed, the project’s director, named another hazard that has been an inescapable part of Central Park life: “Kids throwing Spaldeen balls against it.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

July 16th, 2006, 02:56 AM
May 7, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Close the Loop

THIS Tuesday, the New York City Council has scheduled a hearing on proposed legislation that would end motor vehicle traffic within Central Park — for the summer, at least — and it's about time..

The City's refusal to deal with the vehicular traffic issue, while taking roads away by closing the park loop, creating more bike lanes, etc. etc., is totally outragous...:mad:

July 16th, 2006, 08:41 AM
^ Greatest good of the greatest number.

July 16th, 2006, 11:19 AM
Eliminating some of the cars coming in to the business district would be the greatest of all greatest goods, for all New Yorkers.. But that's not politically correct..:(.. Closing the Central Park to vehicles is..

July 16th, 2006, 12:34 PM
Eliminating some of the cars coming in to the business district would be the greatest of all greatest goods, for all New Yorkers.. But that's not politically correct..:(.. Closing the Central Park to vehicles is..
Both would be best of all. I'm all for congestion charging. Would make it easier for cabbies, for sure.

July 16th, 2006, 01:00 PM
But would it ^^ stop them from honking their horns at whim?

July 16th, 2006, 01:15 PM
That's for strict enforcement of the noise ordinance.

July 16th, 2006, 02:36 PM
oooooooo, that stereotyping... it can be amusing, that's for sure..:D :D :D

July 17th, 2006, 06:32 PM
I took these on Saturday. Alot of wedding parties end up here for thier pictures. This is Central Park East @106 (Vanderbilt Gate).
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/th_SoBro029.jpg (http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/SoBro029.jpg)
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/th_SoBro026.jpg (http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/SoBro026.jpg)
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/th_SoBro021.jpg (http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/SoBro021.jpg)

I snapped these driving down Central Park East.
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/th_SoBro035.jpg (http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/SoBro035.jpg)

Not many people know that the grand French Renaisance-style chateau on the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street is actually open to the public. Built for a businessman and art collector named Isaac D. Fletcher in 1899, and later home to oil millionaire and scandal-ridden Harry F. Sinclair as well as Augustus Van Horn Stuyvesant (descendant of Peter Stuyvesant, the colonial director famous for his $24 deal with Manhattan's Native Americans), this mansion was purchased by the Ukranian Institute in 1955.
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/th_SoBro034.jpg (http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/SoBro034.jpg)
http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/th_SoBro033.jpg (http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y41/virtualchoirboy/SoBro033.jpg)

July 17th, 2006, 06:41 PM
Wow, beautiful pictures of a little-known part of the park.

There were French style townhouses like that on Fifth Avenue opposite the Met, where Philip Johnson put that stupid, jokey apartment building with the ostentatiously propped-up mansard facade element.

November 1st, 2006, 10:27 AM
A quiet spot near a busy bridge.

http://img112.imageshack.us/img112/1913/gapstow30qc6.th.jpg (http://img112.imageshack.us/my.php?image=gapstow30qc6.jpg)

November 12th, 2006, 06:41 PM
Earlier this year, plans were announced for capital projects to renovate areas of the park over the next seven years.

Over the course of the next seven years, the Conservancy will be breaking ground on multiple projects in two key areas of the Park. One focus will be on the landscapes, bridges, structures, and shoreline of the Lake. The remaining projects will include the landscapes and playgrounds on the stretch of parkland that extends along the east side from the Metropolitan Museum to the Harlem Meer. Many of the restorations will re-establish lost “Olmstedian” views and re-create rustic structures and bridges not seen since the Park’s early years. Whenever possible the Conservancy’s landscape architecture team has stayed true to or evoked the spirit of the 1858 Greensward Plan of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux for Central Park. The restoration of the 22-acre Lake, located in the heart of the lower Park (West 72nd-78th Streets), will be completed in two-and-a-half years. The restoration of the Lake encompasses several adjacent landscapes and distinctive architectural features. Projects will be done in phases to limit the effect on public use of these areas.

Text (http://www.centralparknyc.org/media/file/CampaignPressRelease.pdf)

Work has begun at Bank Rock Bay.
http://img300.imageshack.us/img300/5615/cpbankrock01cor6.th.jpg (http://img300.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock01cor6.jpg)

http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/5448/cpbankrock02cgn1.th.jpg (http://img294.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock02cgn1.jpg) http://img247.imageshack.us/img247/9765/cpbankrock03cga5.th.jpg (http://img247.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock03cga5.jpg) http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/3110/cpbankrock04cqr8.th.jpg (http://img294.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock04cqr8.jpg)

It's a mess, but wildlife likes it just the way it is.
http://img295.imageshack.us/img295/355/bankrock01nv8.th.jpg (http://img295.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bankrock01nv8.jpg)

November 12th, 2006, 09:05 PM
Went for a walk in the park last weekend and found they're doing construction at Bethesda Terrace also. They have areas roped off and all.

Here's a couple from last fall:



January 1st, 2007, 11:46 PM
Restored Tiles in the Heart of Central Park (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20070101_BETHESDA_GRAPHIC/)

The Bethesda Terrace is being restored to the vision of Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

January 4th, 2007, 11:53 AM
Why is this taking so long? It's a tile ceiling. Skyscrapers have been built and the entire George Washington Bridge has been repainted since the $3.5M donation was given to complete this job.

January 15th, 2007, 02:02 AM
I took a long walk through the park last Saturday. It was about 72 degrees that day, and there were literally thousands of people in the park. It could not have been more perfect.










January 15th, 2007, 02:04 AM



Working on Bestheda Terrace (and yes, it was already late afternoon on a Saturday):








January 15th, 2007, 02:06 AM









January 15th, 2007, 02:07 AM
Notice the orange cones: a 72 degree-day has a way of making huge puddles in an ice skating rink:





I saw several brides and grooms.


Fittingly, there was more than just love blossoming:


January 15th, 2007, 04:56 AM
Central Park could use more tall evergreens so that it doesn't look so brown and naked during the winter months when the deciduous trees are bare.


January 15th, 2007, 01:16 PM
Pianoman, thanks for those pictures! I wanted to walk into the Park that day but got sidetracked. That picture with the two people bicycling in shorts says it all. Oh, and the last one, with the Forsythia beginning to bloom.

Liverpool Alan
January 18th, 2007, 08:43 PM
Hi a newbi here all the way from Liverpool UK comming over in feb so i am using your sight as a great fact finder for our trip to Manhatten. Central Park is top of my list as most visitors but a little bit more special for me being from Birkenhead.


Birkenhead park is 3 miles from our house and walk it with our family and dog every week. Looking at your pics i will post some of birkenhead park when i work out how to.
Many thanks Alan

Liverpool Alan
January 18th, 2007, 09:23 PM
My spelling is bad tonight sorry. Mind it is 2.25 am g/d-nite

January 23rd, 2007, 08:04 AM
January 23, 2007

In Douglass Tribute, Slave Folklore and Fact Collide

Courtesy of Algernon Miller
An eight-foot-tall sculpture of Frederick Douglass, by the sculptor Gabriel Koren, is included in the $15.5 million project honoring Douglass.



At the northwest corner of Central Park, construction is under way on Frederick Douglass Circle, a $15.5 million project honoring the escaped slave who became a world-renowned orator and abolitionist.

Beneath an eight-foot-tall sculpture of Douglass, the plans call for a huge quilt in granite, an array of squares, a symbol in each, supposedly part of a secret code sewn into family quilts and used along the Underground Railroad to aid slaves. Two plaques would explain this.

The only problem: According to many prominent historians, the secret code — the subject of a popular book that has been featured on no less a cultural touchstone than “The Oprah Winfrey Show” — never existed. And now the city is reconsidering the inclusion of the plaques, so as not to “publicize spurious history,” Kate D. Levin, the city’s commissioner of cultural affairs, said yesterday.

The plaques may go, but they have spawned an energetic debate about folklore versus fact, and who decides what becomes the lasting historical record.

The memorial’s link between Douglass, who escaped slavery from Baltimore at age 20, and the coded designs has puzzled historians. But what particularly raised the historians’ ire were the two plaques, one naming the code’s symbols and the other explaining that they were used “to indicate the location of safe houses, escape routes and to convey other information vital to a slave’s escape and survival.”

It’s “a myth, bordering on a hoax,” said David Blight, a Yale University historian who has written a book about Douglass and edited his autobiography. “To permanently associate Douglass’s life with this story instead of great, real stories is unfortunate at best.”

The quilt theory was first published in the 1999 book “Hidden in Plain View,” by Jacqueline Tobin, a journalist and college English instructor from Denver, and Raymond Dobard, a quilting and African textiles expert. It was based on the recollections of Ozella McDaniel Williams, a teacher in Los Angeles who became a quiltmaker in Charleston, S.C. “Ozella’s code,” the book says, was handed down from slave times from mother to daughter. Ms. Williams died in 1998.

According to “Hidden in Plain View,” slaves created quilts with codes to advise those fleeing captivity. What looked to the slave master like an abstract panel on a quilt being “aired out” on a porch in fact represented a reminder, say, to be sure to follow a zigzag path to avoid being tracked when escaping. In Ms. Williams’s account, there was a sequence of 10 panels to guide an escaping slave, beginning with a “monkey wrench” pattern meaning to gather up tools and supplies and concluding with a star, a reminder to head north.

The authors say that people have tried to make too much of the book, which they intended to be one family’s story. “I would say there has been a great deal of misunderstanding about the code,” Dr. Dobard said. “In the book Jackie and I set out to say it was a set of directives. It was a beginning, not an end-all, to stir people to think and share those stories.”

Even before the book was published, the codes in “Hidden in Plain View” got a boost from “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” which had Dr. Dobard, a quilter himself, as a guest in November 1998. The show was rebroadcast on Martin Luther King’s Birthday in 1999, the day before the book was published, according to Janet Hill, who edited it and is now a vice president of Doubleday. That same day, Ms. Hill wrote in an e-mail message, the book was featured in USA Today. “The book seemed to take off from there,” she wrote.

There are currently 207,000 copies in print, she said. The codes are frequently taught in elementary schools (teachers have been eager to take up the quilting-codes theory because of its useful pedagogic elements — a secret code, artwork and a story of triumph), and the patterns represent a small industry within quiltmaking.

Algernon Miller, who designed the memorial site, said he “was inspired by this story line,” which he discovered in the library. His was a re-interpretation, he said, noting that he was “taking a soft material, a quilt, and converting it into granite.”

“Traditionally what African-Americans do is take something and reinterpret into another form,” he said.

The team of Mr. Miller and a sculptor, Gabriel Koren, were selected in January 2003, from six proposals in a competition organized by the Studio Museum in Harlem. While the project, which involves rebuilding roadways, will cost more than $15 million in city, state and federal money, the 15,000-square-foot plaza and sculpture were commissioned for $750,000. It’s unclear how much it would cost to redesign it now. The memorial, at 110th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard, is expected to be completed in fall 2008.

Professor Blight raised his concerns shortly after reading an editorial column in The New York Times in November praising the project and treating the quilting codes as fact. He posted a message at an online discussion group for historians of slavery. “Unfortunately, this UGRR quilt code mythology has also managed to make its way onto the very permanent and very important Frederick Douglass Memorial,” he wrote, using initials to refer to the Underground Railroad. “Douglass never saw a quilt used to free any slaves in his day. Why do we need to pin this nonsense on him now?”

Dozens of postings later, one commentator this month posted a note cautioning that the discussion was threatening to “degenerate into an episode of ‘Historians Gone Wild.’ ”

“We are watching in real time an unfolding of belief in a story,” said Marsha MacDowell, a quilting expert and an art professor at Michigan State University. “It will take years to undo. It’s like Washington chopping down the cherry tree. It has finally been written out of the history books.”

Giles R. Wright, director of the Afro-American History Program at the New Jersey Historical Commission, rattled off the historians’ problems in a telephone interview: There is no surviving example of an encoded quilt from the period. The code was never mentioned in any of the interviews of ex-slaves carried out in the 1930’s by the Works Progress Administration. There is no mention of quilting codes in any diaries or memoirs from the period.

Mr. Miller responded to critics: “No matter what anyone has to say, they weren’t there in that particular moment, especially something that was in secret.”

John Reddick, who works for the Central Park Conservancy and helped shepherd the project through its financing and community board approval, noted that in less than a decade “Hidden in Plain View” had become “a touchstone to creative people” and compared the quilt code to the coded language in Negro spirituals. “Take ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,’ ” he said, “the slave master thinks you are talking about dying, and the slaves are talking about getting away.” He also noted the paradox of historians demanding written evidence when slaves were barred from learning to read and write.

On Ms. Winfrey’s show, Dr. Dobard appeared with the black descendants of Thomas Jefferson. That relationship was preserved in oral history across the centuries, even as historians of the past generally dismissed the claim. DNA tests published in 1998 are considered to have confirmed Jefferson’s paternity.

A spokeswoman for Harpo Productions, which produces the show, had no comment on the controversy.

A historian, Christopher Moore, who is research coordinator at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, was consulted on the printed material in the memorial, which includes many quotations from Douglass.

In an interview, Mr. Moore said that as an unpaid consultant reviewing the project, he focused on the Douglass material, and gave cursory attention to the quilts.

When told of the historians’ objections, Mr. Moore said “it was a mistake” to include the text explaining the codes. He said he has since been asked to write a historically accurate text for the memorial.

Ms. Levin said she thought the memorial’s larger quilting theme was appropriate. “Something can inspire an artist that is not be based in fact,” she said. “This isn’t a work of history, it’s a work of art.”

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

January 23rd, 2007, 11:01 PM
As a driver, I find the design of the Frederick Douglas Circle not driver friendly. I might sound selfish when I say two lanes around the circle is not enough to support the traffic but it is just a fact. With three lanes traffic would have flowed much smoother and the circle would not have lost too much from it's public area.. I give the design crew *, out of a possible****...

January 24th, 2007, 10:56 AM
They really have to omit the dubious secret-code nonsense. Why do people embellish the past with feel-good BS when the true facts are remarkable enough. I'ts especially important to stick to the facts when we're talking about something that will be immortalized in granite!
Incidentally, I can't stand Oprah Winfrey. Always doing her part to spread her special brand of let's-join-hands kumbayah baloney.
In general I applaud the effort to give the northwest corner of the park something artistic and historical, as long as they get the facts right.

January 24th, 2007, 02:45 PM
I guess we've learned nothing from Liberators.

January 30th, 2007, 08:16 PM
The renovated Heckscher Playground has re-opened and it's beauty ...

Work has started on rebuilding the Heckscher Playground Building which was destroyed in a fire (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9503E1DA123EF931A25757C0A9639C8B 63&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fP% 2fParks%20and%20Other%20Recreation%20Areas) almost two years ago ...


Central Park Restroom Roof Burns as 3 Hydrants Fail

Extra firefighters and equipment are needed to extinquish fire in at Heckscher Playground bathroom in New York City's Central Park because three hydrants at nearest playground are out of order; hoses are stretched for two blocks to nearest working hydrant; damage closes building scheduled for renovation; officials speculate that fire is of electrical origin ...
15 CPW rises in the background ...


Frigid temperatures kept almost everybody away from the playground today, but this kid was having a ball ...


March 8th, 2007, 05:21 PM
Taken yesterday:







March 8th, 2007, 06:08 PM
fantastic ^^^ thanks for the pics, midtown guy ;)

March 9th, 2007, 03:50 PM
Wow. That is stunning. Thanks!

March 10th, 2007, 07:12 PM
They really did a great job on the colors.

March 10th, 2007, 07:45 PM

Anyone have any "before" pictures?

Ceiling tile looks new. Portugal?

March 10th, 2007, 07:52 PM
Some info HERE (http://www.conservationsolution.com/work_research_bethesda_terrace_arcade.html) from a company (Conservation Solutions, Inc.) that worked on the restoration ...

Restoring the Minton Tile Ceiling Bethesda Terrace Arcade,
Central Park, New York City

By Mark Rabinowitz and Peter Champe

Originally published in the APT Bulletin, Volume XXX-2/3, 1999

Figure 3. The Minton tile ceiling within
the Bethesda Terrace arcade showed
signs of spalling from the edge due
to failing cast-iron backing.

March 10th, 2007, 07:59 PM
More pics of the restored tiles (http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=bethesda%20terrace%20tiles&w=all) at flickr (not as good as MG's, though ;) )

March 10th, 2007, 08:02 PM
Here's how the ceiling looked about two years ago ...



March 10th, 2007, 08:06 PM
Lots of pictures at flickr of other Minton tiles HERE (http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=all&q=minton+tiles&m=text)

And from Tile Heaven (http://www.tile-heaven.co.uk/mintons-01.htm) lots of Minton tiles.

March 11th, 2007, 10:02 PM
Two decades, and I miss it.

March 13th, 2007, 06:59 AM
New tiles aren't the original pattern, but maybe they're better than the original.

March 14th, 2007, 11:55 PM
A model from the Robert Moses exhibition (http://www.mcny.org/exhibitions/current/466.html) at the Museum of the City of New York showing an unbuilt pavilion for Central Park near the corner of CPS and Fifth Avenue, sponsored by Huntington Hartford and designed by Edward Durell Stone ...



March 15th, 2007, 12:03 AM
Earlier this year, plans were announced for capital projects to renovate areas of the park over the next seven years.

Text (http://www.centralparknyc.org/media/file/CampaignPressRelease.pdf)

Work has begun at Bank Rock Bay.

http://img300.imageshack.us/img300/5615/cpbankrock01cor6.th.jpg (http://img300.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock01cor6.jpg)

http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/5448/cpbankrock02cgn1.th.jpg (http://img294.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock02cgn1.jpg) http://img247.imageshack.us/img247/9765/cpbankrock03cga5.th.jpg (http://img247.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock03cga5.jpg) http://img294.imageshack.us/img294/3110/cpbankrock04cqr8.th.jpg (http://img294.imageshack.us/my.php?image=cpbankrock04cqr8.jpg)

It's a mess, but wildlife likes it just the way it is.

http://img295.imageshack.us/img295/355/bankrock01nv8.th.jpg (http://img295.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bankrock01nv8.jpg)

The area leading into the Bank Rock Bay just across the Bow Bridge has been cleared -- and is ready for construction of new paths. The hillsides have been covered with heavy woven burlap, giving the entire area a "Christo" wrapped look ...






March 15th, 2007, 08:37 AM
Happened to be on holiday when the fire was in progress.

April 25th, 2007, 10:03 AM
Manhattan horse stable set to close after 115 years

Associated Press
April 24, 2007, 5:33 AM EDT</SPAN>

NEW YORK -- A stable where horses have lived among Manhattanites for more than a century will close this weekend, the owner said.

A living memento of 19th-century New York, the Claremont Riding Academy will close down at 5 p.m. Sunday, said owner Paul Novograd.

Claremont offers riding lessons and hires out horses for riding on Central Park's six miles of bridle paths. So many pedestrians now use the paths that riding has become difficult, Novograd said.

Claremont opened as a livery stable in 1892 and became a riding academy in the 1920s, he said.

Its West 89th Street building features a riding ring, with stalls on floors above and below. Horses make their way up and down on ramps.

Over the years, United Nations ambassadors, fashion models, actors, tourists and many others have ridden at Claremont. A chase scene in the 1981 movie "Eyewitness," which starred William Hurt and Sigourney Weaver, was shot in the stable. Some of the horses have appeared in soap operas and posed for magazine ads.

April 25th, 2007, 07:19 PM
^I just read that article. It's too bad, because I'm sure it was like a fantasy to be able to ride in Central Park.

April 30th, 2007, 07:02 AM
April 30, 2007

A Vestige of the Past Shutters Its Stalls

James Estrin/The New York Times
Mothers, some of them in tears, watched as their children took their final lessons
Sunday at the Claremont Riding Academy.

The owner, Paul Novograd, in one of the stalls on the Upper West Side.


The horses relaxed upstairs in their wooden stalls as the radio played, munching on hay and oblivious to history, controversy and other human concerns. Downstairs, in an old office lined with dusty saddles, Paul Novograd pulled out a black-and-white photo from the 1930s. It was a picture of his father.

Mr. Novograd’s Polish-born father, Irwin, started working at the Claremont Riding Academy during the Depression, as a bookkeeper. He took over the business in 1943, and his son, who grew up playing hide-and-seek among the hay bales, eventually became the owner.

Yesterday, Paul Novograd, 63, ended the family tradition, closing the stables for good. Were this some other place, some place out West maybe, the shuttering of one old riding school might have gone unnoticed. But what made Claremont unique was not so much what it was but where it was: in the heart of Manhattan, on the Upper West Side, a few steps from a Papa John’s pizzeria at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 89th Street, and less than two blocks from Central Park.

The academy was the oldest continuously operated stable in New York City and, according to Mr. Novograd, the oldest in the United States, offering riding lessons and the renting and boarding of horses. It was a patch of un-Manhattan in Manhattan, definitive proof that the city indeed had it all — skyscrapers, a nearly naked cowboy in Times Square and horses you could rent for $55 an hour.

Mr. Novograd’s decision to close the academy shocked many of his customers and even many of his 30 employees. All day yesterday, the last official day of business at Claremont, people stood around as if at a wake.

Upstairs, Chelsea Roberts, 47, who started riding the horses at Claremont in the early 1970s, said goodbye to one of her favorites, Bach. She brought along her 10-year-old son, Maxwell Roberts-Pereira, who learned how to ride at the academy. Downstairs, in the main office just outside the riding ring, someone taped a letter to Claremont to the glass panes of the door: “You are more than brick, mortar, wood, dirt and hay. Your soul is made of all those souls that have come through your doors.”

And down a muddy, cleated ramp on the sidewalk outside, Christina Valauri snapped a picture and shook her head.

“I’ve ridden here, my daughter’s ridden here,” said Ms. Valauri, a research director at a brokerage firm. “This is a real loss. I actually feel like I am at a funeral.”

The riding school was formed in 1927, in a tan-brick building erected in 1892 as a public livery stable. It had escaped death before, when the city condemned and took over the property from Irwin Novograd in the 1960s as part of an urban renewal program. The city never followed through on its plans for public housing at the Claremont site, and in the late 1990s Mr. Novograd’s son bought it back.

But insurance costs, payments on a loan for a $2 million restoration and taxes had become too costly, Paul Novograd said, while business decreased over the years by hundreds of riders on an average weekend.

“It’s a wonderful institution,” he said. “It’s a shame it has to go. But I can’t go into bankruptcy. I’ve taken out a second mortgage on my house to put money into this place.”

He said that the popularity of nearby Central Park worked against him and the horses. Riders could take the horses for a stroll on the scenic bridle path in the park, but as the path became more congested with joggers and other pedestrians, the path’s upkeep decreased, as did the number of customers willing to navigate the crowds, he said. “The bridle path has become like an obstacle course, with dogs nipping at horses’ heels, people pushing baby strollers,” Mr. Novograd said.

He declined to answer questions about what would happen to the building, which would be worth millions on the market. “I can’t say anything about the future,” Mr. Novograd said, though he added that the building could not be torn down because it is a registered national and city landmark.

The parents of many children who were Claremont regulars expressed frustration with Mr. Novograd and the speed with which he announced the closing. Mr. Novograd told his employees last Sunday evening that the academy was shutting its doors, and many customers found out about it the next day. There was an awkwardness at the stable yesterday, as Mr. Novograd walked among so many of his critics, some quietly and others not so quietly making their frustrations known.

Mary Hanlon, whose 11-year-old daughter has been to the riding school twice a week, said she found it hard to believe that all the options to keep the stable open had been exhausted, from seeking help from nonprofit groups to creating a public-private partnership. “I can’t believe one person can take this away,” she said. “It’s a community center.”

Councilwoman Gale A. Brewer of Manhattan and Scott M. Stringer, the borough president, condemned the closing at a news conference at the academy on Saturday, but it is unclear what, if anything, riders and city officials could do. Yesterday, as former and current Claremont riders flocked to the academy for one last look or one last ride, the nostalgia for New York City’s equestrian anachronism was everywhere. There are other nearby places to go horseback riding, including in Riverdale in the Bronx, but they said they went to Claremont not out of habit but out of love.

Ms. Roberts, who visited Bach in the stalls upstairs, remembered riding a Claremont horse through Central Park after her grandmother died. “Horses listen to you,” she said. Riders young and old spoke of Claremont horses as a means of escape from city life, however temporary.

Claremont horses were 1,500-pound New Yorkers who had a way of making fans and making news. Casco, a 17-hand gelding, starred in “Aida” at the Metropolitan Opera. On an annual spring ride, waiters from Tavern on the Green used to serve the horses carrot treats on silver trays.

Some were caught up in tragedy and drama. Escargot threw off its rider in Central Park in November 1983 and struck a 71-year-old woman on a bicycle. The woman later died from her injuries. In 1969, a state court ruled that a civil rights law did not apply to horses, after a complaint was brought against the academy for refusing to stable a horse.

Mr. Novograd said the academy’s roughly 45 horses will be sent to good homes. Some are going to the Potomac Horse Center, which Mr. Novograd operates in Gaithersburg, Md. Others are being sold privately or donated to the Yale University riding team.

Sean McManus contributed reporting.

he Claremont Riding Academy, located on the Upper West Side, is closing.
The academy was the only remaining public stable in Manhattan.

The stable opened in 1892 and became a riding school in 1927.

The academy says the closing resulted from financial pressures and the declining usefulness
of Central Park's bridle path, which in recent decades has become crowded with joggers,
dog walkers and stroller pushers.

Saying farewell to a riding partner.

Most of the stable’s approximately 40 horses will be distributed among a riding school in
North Potomac, Md., a home in Roscoe, N.Y., and Yale University’s equestrian program.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

April 30th, 2007, 07:19 AM
The oldest now is Kensington Stables (http://www.kensingtonstables.com/index.htm), just off the southern tip of Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

At one time, the eastern mall of Ocean Parkway was a bridle path, and you could ride from Prospect Park to Brighton Beach.

June 7th, 2007, 08:03 AM
Car Ban May Be Enforced In Central Park

BY Special to the Sun
June 5, 2007
URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/55904

The city is considering banning cars from Central Park 24 hours a day, seven days a week during the summer, the recently appointed transportation commissioner, Janette Sadik-Khan, told a group of about 2,000 cyclists on Sunday.

The statement by Ms. Sadik-Khan, herself an avid cyclist, marks a departure from her predecessor, Iris Weinshall, who had vetoed a similar plan arguing that closing the park's roadway loop to motorists would worsen congestion and pollution throughout Manhattan.

Cars were first allowed to drive on the roadway in 1899, and by permit only, according a spokesman for the advocacy group Transportation Alternatives, the group that has been leading the campaign for a car-free Central Park. A poll by Transportation Alternatives found that among respondents one in 10 visitors to the park were injured by a vehicle, and 64% would use the park more if vehicles were banned.

A spokesman for the transportation department said the city was considering the plan after receiving several requests from City Council and transit advocates. It was too early to say when the program might begin, he said. The president of Manhattan, Scott Stringer, five Council members, and the public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, have all endorsed the initiative.

June 7th, 2007, 08:24 AM
A poll by Transportation Alternatives found that among respondents one in 10 visitors to the park were injured by a vehicle, and 64&#37; would use the park more if vehicles were banned.
But surely not in the park itself!!

A dishonest statistical citation?

June 7th, 2007, 08:59 AM
That sounds like a manipulated statistic.

If someone in the running lane was spooked by a passing car, moved over and stepped on the someone's foot, you could say the car caused a foot injury.

But it's obvious that the relatively small percentage of traffic that uses the park drives affects the park environment out of proportion to the actual number.

October 20th, 2007, 08:27 PM
OCTOBER 19, 2007

Horseback Riding Returns to Central Park



Riders from the Claremont Riding Academy, which closed last April, on Central Park’s bridle path.
(Photo: Suzanne DeChillo/The New York TImes)

In April, equestrians mourned when the owner of the Claremont Riding Academy, the last public stable in Manhattan, announced that it would close. The riding school was formed in 1927, in a tan-brick building erected in 1892. The owner, Paul Novograd, said the decision resulted from financial pressures and the diminished usefulness of Central Park’s 4.25-mile bridle path, which is often crowded with pedestrians and cyclists.

As Manny Fernandez wrote in a farewell piece to the stable:
The academy was the oldest continuously operated stable in New York City and, according to Mr. Novograd, the oldest in the United States, offering riding lessons and the renting and boarding of horses. It was a patch of un-Manhattan in Manhattan, definitive proof that the city indeed had it all — skyscrapers, a nearly naked cowboy in Times Square and horses you could rent for $55 an hour.

Of the more than 40 or so horses left, some retired, some went to a horse center in Maryland and five were donated to Yale. As of May, three horses remained at Claremont, all part of the Parks Enforcement Patrol, an arm of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department. (They horses were to be moved to a Parks Department stable in Central Park.)

With the closing of the Claremont Riding Academy, recreational riders in Central Park had nowhere to turn — until now.

Under an agreement announced today by the Parks Department, the Riverdale Equestrian Center will offer horseback riding by appointment at the North Meadow Recreation Center, off of 96th Street in Central Park. But the riding will not be cheap; a guided trail ride costs $100 an hour. Pony rides will also be available.

“In keeping with its 150-year equestrian tradition, we are happy to bring horseback riding back to Central Park,” the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe, said in a statement. “Just as the first visitors to Central Park did, you can now ride a horse along the four miles of bridle paths — one of the best ways to get out and enjoy the peace and serenity of the park.”

How popular the new riding program will be remains to be seen. Central Park was originally designed with a bridle path for horseback riders. On the path’s three sections –- the 1.65-mile Reservoir Loop, the 1.1-mile North Meadow Loop and the 1.5-mile Southern Spur — you are far more likely to find joggers, cyclists, dog walkers and stroller pushers than to see a recreational horse.

To make an appointment, riders should contact Riverdale Equestrian Center, which is based in Van Cortlandt Park, by e-mail or by phone at (718) 548-4848. Visitors may see and pet the horses from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the weekends at the North Meadow Recreation Center hitching post. Riding will continue through Thanksgiving, and start up again in the spring.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

October 27th, 2007, 06:13 PM
^ Good news, but the price is steep. Reason for that: you have to be accompanied.

That means limits to what you may do with your horse. Accomplished riders are unlikely to be interested.

November 17th, 2007, 04:16 AM
Streetscapes | The Arsenal in Central Park

From Armory to Zoo to Museum to Offices

By CHRISTOPHER GRAY (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=CHRISTOPHER GRAY&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=CHRISTOPHER GRAY&inline=nyt-per)
Published: November 18, 2007

THE Arsenal, completed in 1851 in Central Park at East 64th Street, is near the end of a complete exterior restoration. This unusual structure, built to store explosives and ammunition to defend 19th-century New York State (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/classifieds/realestate/locations/newyork/?inline=nyt-geo), later served as the American Museum of Natural History (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/american_museum_of_natural_history/index.html?inline=nyt-org) and as a zoo, and is now the headquarters of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.
Office for Metropolitan History
A 20-Some Gun Salutes The Arsenal about 1870.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/11/18/realestate/18scap.1902.jpg G. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
The military touches were installed in the 1936 renovation, probably by Aymar Embury II, a parks department architect.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2007/11/18/realestate/18scap.large3.jpgG. Paul Burnett/The New York Times
Holiday lighting by James Conti in its 2006 version, festooned the Arsenal with vertical strands from top to bottom.

It is not clear why New York State decided to build its principal storehouse for arms and ammunition so far from the city center, which by 1850 was around Houston Street. But Martin E. Thompson was retained to design a fortresslike structure with a crenelated parapet for a site just off Fifth Avenue at 64th Street.

A photograph from 1862 shows the facade painted or stuccoed a light color, with dark shutters and access by high iron stairs. According to an article in The New York Times in 1857, the Arsenal had been “painted in imitation of granite.” Slightly later views show the building with naked brick, with octagonal roofs installed on the corner turrets and the crenelations eliminated.

As an armory, the Arsenal was soon found lacking. In 1857 the City of New York bought the building, and it was soon enveloped by Central Park.

According to research by Jonathan Kuhn, director of art and antiquities for the parks department, George Templeton Strong referred in 1859 to the “hideous State Arsenal Building” and expressed the hope that “this eyesore” would soon be “destroyed by accidental fire.”

The Central Park Zoo, established in the 1860s, took over part of the Arsenal, initiating its halls to the sounds and smells of apes, camels, elephants, lions and other live creatures. The American Museum of Natural History brought in dead ones when it occupied another part of the structure from 1869 to 1877.

In 1884, The New York Sun reported that a 25-foot-long boa constrictor had escaped from its cage in the basement and was missing. The Times reported that people had needlessly deserted the area because the report of the escape was a hoax by some zoo employees.

In his 1899 book, “The New Metropolis,” E. Idell Zeisloft called the Arsenal “a flimsy structure of vulgarized Norman architecture,” and it became a favorite target for replacement or demolition. In 1909, a proposal to replace it with an art gallery for the National Academy of Design (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/n/national_academy_of_design/index.html?inline=nyt-org) passed in the State Assembly, but citizen protests about building in the park killed the project.

In 1912, Henry Clay Frick was planning his house at 70th Street and Fifth Avenue, which was to replace the Lenox Library of 1877, a building much admired by architects. He offered to disassemble the library and re-erect it in Central Park on the site of the Arsenal. This offer, too, was bitterly criticized, and Frick soon withdrew it.

Mayor William J. Gaynor, angered at the rough treatment Frick’s gesture had received, said he was going to demolish the Arsenal because it was “unsanitary and unfit.” A Times editorial called it “an eyesore, fetid with the smell of the stables and the nearby menagerie.”

The unloved structure survived this threat, too, and was renovated in 1924 as the parks department’s headquarters. Another renovation came in 1936, when sandblasting removed “the brown paint long on the building,” The Times said.

At that time a designer installed the military touches that can still be seen at the front door, with cannon balls, military drums and, as stair balusters, cast-iron muskets. Adrian Benepe (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/adrian_benepe/index.html?inline=nyt-per), commissioner of parks and recreation, said he was sure the designer must have been Aymar Embury II, a staff architect for the department in the 1930s and 1940s, because “he was such a historicist.”
By the 1930s, the parks department was dressing the Arsenal with Christmas decorations — in 1936 with a representation of the New Testament story of the three wise men following the star in the East.

Beginning in 2005, the department began an unusual program of holiday lighting, designed by James Conti. Instead of the usual horizontal strings, Mr. Conti draped the building in roof-to-ground strands of closely spaced lights, generally blue and purple. Viewed through the screen of trees, it is a moody, evocative sight, like the bass line of a slow jazz tune.

Now the department is finishing up a $5 million overhaul of the exterior to repair multiple leaks. As Mr. Benepe put it, “Every time New York had a northeaster, we had fountains of water onto people’s desks.”

The leaks are nearly fixed, but don’t look for Mr. Conti’s holiday lighting this year. The construction scaffolding will remain into 2008.

Copyright The New York Times.

November 17th, 2007, 11:29 AM
My company will be involved in the restoration of this building soon, i think we are taking care of an entrance.

November 17th, 2007, 02:04 PM

Will you be able to be involved On Site?

November 17th, 2007, 02:56 PM
I may end up there at some point, im unsure as we only just got the project recently.

January 8th, 2008, 05:23 PM
January 8, 2008
Settlement on Use of Central Park’s Great Lawn


After three years of contentious litigation, the New York City Parks Department agreed Tuesday to back away from a controversial regulation to limit public events on the Great Lawn, in the heart of Central Park, to 50,000 people. The decision to rescind the rule — put in place, the city said, to protect the lawn and used in an early form to deny permits to antiwar demonstrators — was hailed by its critics as a victory for the First Amendment and for the public use of public land.

“It’s an enormous victory for New Yorkers and for everyone who comes to New York City,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, a lawyer for the Partnership for Civil Justice, which had challenged the regulation. “Not only for their free-speech rights, but for their rights to public space that belongs to the people.”

Enforcement of the rule was temporarily set aside as part of a settlement agreement with two antiwar groups that Ms. Verheyden-Hilliard’s group represents and that sued the city after they were denied a permit to hold a demonstration on the lawn in advance of the Republican National Convention in 2004. While the rule was not formally adopted until December 2005, the city had an informal policy of protecting the lawn in place since 1997, officials said, when it spent $18.2 to restore the 13-acre area.

Under the agreement, which staved off a looming federal trial, the city will now conduct a study to determine “the optimum and sustainable use of the Great Lawn for large events.” Officials said that current regulations governing the lawn would remain in effect while the study is conducted, except that the maximum number of attendees permitted on the lawn will be up to 75,000 people.

“We believe that the settlement of this matter is in the city’s best interests,” said Michael A. Cardozo, the city’s Corporation Counsel. “The study will allow the Parks Department to obtain a recommendation that will help it determine whether, and to what extent, the Great Lawn can accommodate large concerts and rallies without significantly damaging the lawn or impeding its day-to-day use for softball and other recreational activities.”

When the regulation was officially—and quietly—established, city officials said that only six events with 5,000 to 50,000 spectators would be permitted each year on the lawn in order to protect its fragile 13 acres of Kentucky bluegrass. Of those six event permits, four were reserved for the Metropolitan Opera and the New York Philharmonic, whose musical events drew “passive” crowds, officials said, which did little damage to the lawn.

The move to limit the gatherings was met at once with spirited criticism from groups who questioned the constitutionality of the restrictions and who argued that the possibility of damage to the lawn was no more than a pretext to mute political action. There were those who said the city was seeking to prevent demonstrations against the Iraq war and those of a more nostalgic bent who could remember a time when the Great Lawn was used for Simon and Garfunkel concerts and large-scale papal masses.

Before the regulation was adopted, there were no explicit limits on the number of people allowed to gather on the lawn, nor on the number of gatherings held there. Permission to assemble was granted on a case-by-case basis with any group of more than 20 requiring a permit.

The lawsuit which led to the agreement was filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan by the National Council of Arab Americans and the Answer Coalition, which applied for — and were denied — permission to stage a rally on the Great Lawn on Aug. 28, 2004, before the Republican gathering in New York. The judge presiding in the case, William H. Pauley III, ruled in March that the city was constitutionally permitted to limit events on the lawn to protect it from damage but had to defend itself against the specific charge of violating the two groups’ First Amendment rights by denying them permission to march.

The study, which will be undertaken at the city’s expense, will be conducted by an independent committee, including at least three experts in “turf management” and one expert in crowd control, the settlement agreement says. Upon completion, its report will be sent to the parks commissioner who will then adopt or not adopt its recommendations.

Should the two plaintiffs in the lawsuit be unsatisfied with the city’s response to the study, the settlement agreement affords them the right to reopen the case. The agreement also requires the city to pay each of the groups $25,000 and reimburse them for $500,000 in attorneys’ costs and fees.

“The Parks Department has consistently made appropriate decisions to protect the Great Lawn’s primary function, which is to provide high-quality green space for active and passive recreation, as well as to accommodate cultural and political events,” said Adrian Benepe, the commissioner of parks and recreation. “We welcome the opportunity for further study.”

Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)


January 28th, 2008, 04:40 AM
Barbaro Memorial To Be Erected in Central Park

By Staff Reporter of the Sun
January 25, 2008

Sculptor Daniel Edwards will unveil a memorial in Central Park dedicated to Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro. The yearling remained undefeated in all its races before being euthanized last year after breaking its ankle in the 2006 Preakness Stakes.

The unveiling of the sculpture, which is scheduled for April 30 to coincide with the 134th Kentucky Derby, will also correspond with the introduction of a new law urging the mandatory disclosure of race-related horse injuries and fatalities.

According to a news release, the sculpture will be located where a carriage horse was killed last year. It will depict Barbaro on his back, with his hooves in the air. The sculpture is being sponsored by the Leo Kesting Gallery

Copyright 2008 The New York Sun

January 28th, 2008, 10:00 AM
I am getting bad feeling - "hooves in the air" does not sound good... Who makes decisions on placement of statues in Central Park anyway?

January 28th, 2008, 10:06 AM
The sculptor Daniel Edwards is mostly known by his statues of Britney Spears giving birth on her hands and knees on a bearskin rug, of Paris Hilton dead and naked with her legs spread, "Presidential Bust of Hillary Rodham Clinton", of Suri Cruise's First Bowel Movement.

January 28th, 2008, 10:17 AM
I wonder what he is gonna make of a horse.

Poor horse.


February 13th, 2008, 01:23 AM
In Central Park. Snow.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2199/2261646981_1df3805aeb_o.jpg (http://flickr.com/photos/sudentas/sets/72157594393655888/show/)

February 13th, 2008, 07:02 AM
Fantastic http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/images/icons/icon14.gif http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/images/icons/icon14.gif http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/images/icons/icon14.gif

February 14th, 2008, 11:55 AM
Really, stunning!

February 14th, 2008, 03:32 PM
I hope turkishann made it to Central Park to see the snow-covered beauty.:)

February 28th, 2008, 10:43 PM
One more from the say day...


The Benniest
February 28th, 2008, 11:08 PM
Beautiful Edward. Very beautiful. This is my new desktop background.


March 26th, 2008, 03:23 PM
http://img137.imageshack.us/img137/4843/bethesda02wz8.th.jpg (http://img137.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bethesda02wz8.jpg) http://img377.imageshack.us/img377/5426/bethesda03wk3.th.jpg (http://img377.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bethesda03wk3.jpg) http://img377.imageshack.us/img377/4696/bethesda04nq0.th.jpg (http://img377.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bethesda04nq0.jpg) http://img377.imageshack.us/img377/838/bethesda05ux3.th.jpg (http://img377.imageshack.us/my.php?image=bethesda05ux3.jpg)

March 26th, 2008, 03:33 PM
Those expensive replacement Minton tiles were worth every penny.

April 6th, 2008, 03:42 AM
A Newfangled Way to Count the Trees in the Park

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/06/nyregion/06trees.span.jpg Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Eric George, arborist, in Central Park, where a complete inventory of trees was completed.

By LILY KOPPEL (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=LILY KOPPEL&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=LILY KOPPEL&inline=nyt-per)
Published: April 6, 2008

On a frigid morning in January on the east side of the Central Park Reservoir, Eric George, 28, was mystifying joggers and dog walkers alike. He wore a backpack with a G.P.S. receiver and carried, in one hand, a data collection unit resembling a portable credit card machine, and in the other, a strip of wood known as a Biltmore stick.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/06/nyregion/06treesGuy.pop.jpgMarilynn K. Yee/The New York Times
Mr. George used a clinometer to measure the height of a tree. He also used a G.P.S. device to locate trees.

“We get looks,” he said at the time.

Mr. George was collecting information for a comprehensive inventory of Central Park’s trees, the first of its kind to use global positioning technology to pinpoint the exact location of each one.

Some of his other equipment had older origins. The Biltmore stick, for example, was developed around the middle of the 18th century to determine a tree trunk’s diameter. And to ascertain the width of each tree’s crown, Mr. George used no equipment at all: he counted the paces it took to get from one end of the tree’s canopy to the other.

Stopping before a black cherry tree, he logged the species name, which was translated by his computer into the Latin name, Prunus serotina. Then he entered the tree’s other data: its height and diameter, its condition, and its percentage of dead wood.

Dead wood, Mr. George said, was a result of a largely invisible “underground battle,” taking place throughout the park, among competing tree roots for prime real estate.

The Central Park Conservancy (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_park_conservancy/index.html?inline=nyt-org), a nonprofit group that manages the park under contract with the city, hired the Davey Resource Group, based in Ohio, to conduct the survey with a team of certified arborists, including Mr. George. The final count: 24,132 mature trees (informally defined as higher than chest level with a trunk diameter of more than six inches). The arborists noted an additional 2,000 saplings, one to six inches in diameter.

In a 1982 survey, a group of 16 volunteers spent an entire summer tramping through the park to come up with their count of 24,595 mature trees. With the new technology, Davey’s four-person team took less than six weeks as they found trees with G.P.S. devices instead of plotting locations on paper maps.

The survey was completed in March, producing, for each of the park’s trees, a computer file storing its long-term history. With this record, park workers can assess the maintenance needs of each tree, track continuing threats like Dutch elm disease and find new planting opportunities.

Neil Calvanese, 59, who started working at the park in 1981 as a tree climber, is now vice president of operations for the conservancy. He found the precise information from the Davey survey “a dream.”

Mr. Calvanese noted that there was data from so-called centennial trees, some of which have been in the park since it was completed in 1873.

The most breathtaking tree in the park, in Mr. Calvanese’s opinion, is an American elm in the East Meadow, which has grown to 59 inches in trunk diameter from 44 inches in 1982. “People come into the park and miss that,” Mr. Calvanese said.

He called the stand of elms along Literary Walk, at the southern end of the park’s central promenade, the greatest in the country, and noted a wealth of “specimen trees,” which assume perfect form and stand out from the surrounding landscape.

The Davey survey reflected the park’s effort to cultivate ornamental trees, Mr. Calvanese said, as well as an increase in trees bearing fruit, like cherries and crab apples.

“The park is more cultivated than in the ’80s,” Mr. Calvanese said, adding that visitors today would not be likely to see initials carved into the bark of beeches as they were years ago. In the mid-1970s, fiscal problems in the city led to a decline in maintenance. Mr. Calvanese said workers were accustomed to finding all sorts of things in the branches of trees, including stashed picnics and even a treehouse.

Today, Mr. Calvanese said, “New Yorkers are very protective of their park.”
The survey concluded that the park’s efforts to reduce invasive trees, which produce lots of seed and take over shrub borders, had been successful: the number of Norway maples was 860, down from 1,302 in 1982. The Norway maples and Sycamore maples, European imports, are being replaced with native species like the red oak, black oak and sugar maple.

“There is now an incredible wealth of information about one of the world’s great stands of trees,” said Mr. Calvanese.

The new data is largely a managerial tool, providing a snapshot of the entire park, Mr. Calvanese said.

In the future, he said, he would like to be able to distribute hand-held G.P.S. devices to park visitors so they could take self-guided tours of the park’s vast collection of trees.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times.

May 4th, 2008, 06:19 AM
Central Park
The Whinnying’s Welcome, but Wariness Greets a Stable

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/05/04/nyregion/horse600.jpg Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times, 2005
Horse and rider, one of Central Park’s enduring images.

Published: May 4, 2008

THE closing of the Claremont Riding Academy in April of last year did not bode well for the future of horseback riding in Central Park. But a lesser-known effect has been the strain on the parks department, which for years kept horses at the stables, on West 89th Street near Amsterdam Avenue. Since the closing, the department has had to haul horses in a trailer from a stable at Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

“It’s a real inconvenience,” said the parks commissioner, Adrian Benepe (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/adrian_benepe/index.html?inline=nyt-per), adding that the closing had greatly diminished the department’s mounted patrol units and rendered scarce one of Central Park’s most charming images, the horse and rider.

And so, with an eye toward the picturesque as well as the practical, the parks department and the Central Park Conservancy (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_park_conservancy/index.html?inline=nyt-org) plan to build a one-story brick stable, to house five horses, near the Central Park Zoo, at Fifth Avenue and 63rd Street. The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the plan on April 8. Construction of the stable is expected to begin this summer and be completed by the fall.

But not everyone is completely happy about the project. Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a preservation group, said his wariness of the plan had less to do with the individual building than with what he called a larger pattern.

“Our broadest concern, really, is the slow accretion of buildings within the park: just a little building over here, a little building over there,” he said.

For example, Mr. Bankoff said, SummerStage, at the Rumsey Playfield near 69th Street, was supposed to be temporary.

Mr. Benepe said his department had considered building a stable outside the park, following the precedent set by the Claremont stables. But the location near the zoo seemed practical, he said, because facilities for animal maintenance and feeding are already in place.

Horses have not actually lived in Central Park since the mid-1980s, when the zoo’s pony ride closed, according to Philip Abramson, a parks
department spokesman. At one time, the police precinct in the park also housed horses, as did the building that is now the North Meadow Recreation Center, at 97th Street.

But Mr. Benepe sees the stable as helping to revive a long tradition “The bridle trails,” he said, “have been kind of lonely.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

May 4th, 2008, 10:41 PM
What a nice day to stroll in the park today - people in row boats, on bikes, dance skaters, a preacher proselytizing from the Naumburg Bandshell, wait, what was the last one? I was somewhat surprised - listening to Bible is usually not on the "What to do in Central Park" lists.

The Central Park Conservancy's priorities raise an eyebrow - apparently political expression is not allowed, but religious propaganda if perfectly all right. I only hope the fees will go to a good cause - like feeding the ducks or cleaning up the used condoms in the woods north of Bow Bridge.

It actually sounds appropriate - the church helping cleanup the sin. Perhaps they can even send missionaries talk to the sinners.

June 12th, 2008, 01:05 PM
A 150-Year-Old Map of Central Park Still Comes in Handy Today

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/12/nyregion/central600.jpg David Dunlap/The New York Times
An 1858 map of Central Park is on display for another week in the old Arsenal on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.

By DAVID W. DUNLAP (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/david_w_dunlap/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: June 12, 2008

“It is the most important work of American art of the 19th century,” Sara Cedar Miller said.

She was referring to Central Park, not to the 3-foot by-8-foot pen-and-ink map over her shoulder. But the two are inseparable. The enormous map depicts “Greensward,” the plan by Frederick Law Olmsted (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/frederick_law_olmsted/index.html?inline=nyt-per) and Calvert Vaux (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/v/calvert_vaux/index.html?inline=nyt-per) that won the park-design competition in 1858.

In honor of its sesquicentennial, the original plan is being exhibited publicly for what may be only the third time in its history. Besides the painstaking craftsmanship of it, with hundreds of thousands of stipple points for vegetation (“I picture Olmsted and Vaux and all of their friends stippling at the last moment,” said Adrian Benepe (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/adrian_benepe/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the parks commissioner), the map is astonishing because it is simultaneously so modern and so antique.

It lays out the framework of the park as it exists today with a prescience that few master plans achieve. You could use it to navigate through many stretches of the park’s 840-acre expanse. Yet it also is a product of a long-ago, almost Arcadian time, as shown in features like a formal flower garden — never constructed — that would have been laid out as intricately as lacework.

The map is the centerpiece of “Celebrating Greensward: The Plan for Central Park, 1858-2008,” which will be on view in the old Arsenal at Fifth Avenue and 64th Street until June 19. Ms. Miller, the historian and photographer for the Central Park Conservancy (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_park_conservancy/index.html?inline=nyt-org), curated the show with Jonathan Kuhn, the director of art and antiquities in the Parks and Recreation Department.

The Arsenal’s third-floor gallery, ordinarily closed on weekends, will be open this Saturday and Sunday, as well as every weekday, from 9 to 5.

Admission is free. There are 71 photographs around “Greensward,” showing the park as it burgeoned and bloomed, as it decayed in the 1920s and revived in the 1930s under the Works Progress Administration (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/w/works_progress_administration/index.html?inline=nyt-org) and the stewardship of Robert Moses (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/robert_moses/index.html?inline=nyt-per), then as it went into a tailspin in the 1970s before beginning another renaissance under Mayor Edward I. Koch (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/edward_i_koch/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s parks commissioner, Gordon J. Davis (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/d/gordon_j_davis/index.html?inline=nyt-per).

Actually, the Arsenal gallery is worth visiting if for no other reason than its cheerfully casual air. It sits among the parks department’s administrative offices, with city employees scurrying back and forth, meeting casually at tables around the gallery; a welcome antidote to the exhibition-hall-as-temple approach.

Mr. Benepe stood before the map recently as he envisioned a late-night stippling bee. As it happens, “Greensward” was drawn up at Vaux’s house, at 136 East 18th Street, and his son once recalled that “there was a great deal of grass to be put on by the usual small dots and dashes, and it became the friendly thing for callers to help on the work by joining in and adding some grass to Central Park.”

Where the flower garden was supposed to have gone, you will find Conservatory Water — better known as the model-boat pond — today. It got its unusual name because it was originally intended to complement a conservatory nearby that was never built. But one was constructed farther uptown in 1899 and stood until 1934. Its site is now occupied by Conservatory Garden.

“You have two features in Central Park with the name ‘Conservatory’ in them and no conservatory,” Mr. Benepe said, reaching for Kurt Vonnegut (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/v/kurt_vonnegut/index.html?inline=nyt-per)’s words to finish the thought. “It’s like cat’s cradle. No damn cat, no damn cradle.”


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 17th, 2008, 04:32 PM
June 17, 2008, 10:26 am

Storm Left Central Park a Little Less Green

By David W. Dunlap (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/ddunlap/)

Douglas Blonsky, left, the president of the Central Park Conservancy, and Christopher Nolan, a vice president, examined the scene of storm destruction in the Ramble on Monday. (Photo by David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

It would be a sad census in any case, but the tally of trees lost in Central Park to high winds during last Wednesday’s storm comes with particular ill grace in the middle of the Million Trees NYC (http://www.milliontreesnyc.org/html/home/home.shtml) campaign.

“You felt it was like a tornado,” said Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageNavigator/aboutcon_cpc) and the administrator of Central Park.

According to the conservancy’s survey, 33 trees were significantly damaged, 24 of which have already been removed.

The largest trees lost, measured in diameter at breast height (four-and-a-half feet off the woodland floor), were a 44-inch red oak and a 42-inch pin oak in the north woods of the park, a 42-inch black oak near the tennis house, a 36-inch linden near the Great Lawn, a 34-inch black locust on the Great Hill and a 33-inch American elm on the Mall.

By species, one American elm was lost, one bitternut hickory, three black cherries, three black locusts, one black oak, two ginkgos, one green ash, two hawthorns, three lindens, one little-leaf linden, three Norway maples (this may not be the worst news from an aboriculturist’s point of view, since this is considered an invasive species), one pin oak, one red maple, one red oak, one Siberian elm and one white oak. The identities of seven trees have yet to be released, pending notification of next of kin.

On a tour of the Ramble on Monday morning, Mr. Blonsky spotted a scene of double destruction, where a large part of a tall black locust had crashed down on a black cherry, destroying the smaller tree. The locust may be salvageable, he said hopefully, but its condition must be carefully assessed.

He said that storms since then, including one on Monday afternoon, had largely spared the park. “Nothing of significance” has been lost since June 10, Mr. Blonsky said — just “a few small trees in our woodlands.”

Given the density of the foliage in the newly restored Ramble, there might be a benefit to this turn of events. “We hate losing any trees,” Mr. Blonsky said, “but getting some sunlight on the ground is not a bad thing.”

And now the campaign can refashion itself: 1,000,033 Trees NYC.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 17th, 2008, 04:45 PM
Serious subject, but this is funny.

By species, one American elm was lost, one bitternut hickory, three black cherries, three black locusts, one black oak, two ginkgos, one green ash, two hawthorns, three lindens, one little-leaf linden, three Norway maples (this may not be the worst news from an aboriculturist’s point of view, since this is considered an invasive species), one pin oak, one red maple, one red oak, one Siberian elm and one white oak. The identities of seven trees have yet to be released, pending notification of next of kin.

June 17th, 2008, 08:03 PM
I wonder if the American Elm lost on the Mall has left an unsightly gap. Too bad.

June 18th, 2008, 05:06 AM
About New York

Bronze Eagles Owe Survival to Drug Dealer

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/18/nyregion/about600.jpgRobert Caplin for The New York TimesThe four eagles on the City Employees War Memorial in Central Park are reproductions; the originals were stolen. Two have just been recovered.

Published: June 18, 2008

When the price of scrap metal rises, the parks and cemeteries of the world are mined by thieves. Statues are decapitated and delimbed, hacksawed into pieces that can be carried off and sold for their weight, not their grace. One age’s bronzed glories have often become the phone wires or car bushings of the next.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/18/nyregion/eagles650.jpgUnited States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Two stolen eagles were recovered last month after a falling-out between a drug dealer and a customer, prosecutors said.

Here, today, a story of endurance — both of statuary and a man.
Since 1926, a memorial honoring the sacrifices of city employees in wartime had sat in the Mall in Central Park, just up from the Naumburg Bandshell. It was an iron flagpole on a pedestal of Deer Isle granite, with four bronze eagles at the base. The sculpture, known as the City Employees War Monument, was designed by Georg John Lober, who also created the statue of Hans Christian Andersen (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/hans_christian_andersen/index.html?inline=nyt-per) in the park and of George M. Cohan in Duffy Square.

Such works and many like them are cast in bronze, an alloy of copper and tin that is particularly durable. They could easily take on time and weather, but not a strong market in scrap metal. “Entire statues were carted off in the 1970s,” Adrian Benepe (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/adrian_benepe/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the commissioner of parks and recreation, said. “They would be mungoed — a police term for the stealing of scrap metal.”

Bronze turtles vanished from a fountain in Riverside Park. All the bronze ornamentation on the viaduct that carries Riverside Drive over 96th Street was devoured. And there were repeated efforts by scavengers to make off with bronze eagles at the base of the Prison Ship Monument in Fort Greene Park, begun in the 1840s at the urging of Walt Whitman (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/walt_whitman/index.html?inline=nyt-per), then the editor at The Brooklyn Eagle. The monument serves as a crypt for remains of some of the 11,500 people who died of starvation and neglect on British prison ships anchored in the East River during the American Revolution.

Anyway, what is the greatest human cataclysm in the city’s history next to $40 a pound?

“The eagles were halfway out of the Prison Ship Monument,” Mr. Benepe said; the weight was apparently too much for the thieves. “We put them in storage.”

In Manhattan, though, the Central Park eagles turned out to have had a special protector: a drug dealer who has been an enduring presence in the Mall over three decades. In the 1970s, he used the eagles as a place to stash his wares.

The Mall and the bandshell had a well-deserved reputation as the Home Depot of drug dealing, a place where buyers could come to get just about anything in the line of illegal narcotics. And the dealers had no end of places to hide their stuff: sewer drains, tree notches, crevices in rocks.

At some point, the drug dealer noticed that the eagles had started to come loose. Whether out of sentiment for services rendered, or the thought of further commercial opportunity, he took two of them home.

And there they stayed, as he continued to market his wares around the Mall. (The other two eagles also disappeared from the monument, but their whereabouts have been lost to history, at least for the time being.)

One of the drug dealer’s steady customers was identified by the authorities as a man with a jewelry business on Fifth Avenue in Midtown.

In time, buyer and dealer had a conversation about the eagles, and the jeweler agreed to purchase the pair for $200. This sale took place sometime in the 1990s, according to a civil complaint filed by prosecutors this month in federal court.

Central Park had started its long climb out of decline, and funds were raised for the restoration of the Mall, with its battered benches, bare lawns, and landscape in near-ruin. Working from old photographs, a sculptor re-created the four bronze eagles that had been on the City Employees Monument.

Nothing stands still. The dealer and the jeweler fell out. Last month, the dealer, whatever the source of his longevity in a trade not known for it, wound up in the hands of federal prosecutors. He told them about his sale of the war memorial eagles to his old customer, the jeweler.

On May 29, the federal authorities appeared at the jeweler’s place of business on Fifth Avenue and found the two eagles. They are now in the possession of prosecutors.

The jeweler — who, like the drug dealer, has not been publicly identified or charged by the authorities — declined to speak on the phone Tuesday.

Prosecutors intend to return the eagles to the city, half of the original four that were perched on the granite pedestal in 1926. They will not quite form a matched set, since the replicas are less than 10 years old, but the originals will definitely be restored, Mr. Benepe said. “It’s amazing,” he said. “They should have been melted a long time ago.”

E-mail: dwyer@nytimes.com


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 26th, 2008, 08:16 AM

Out of the Loop and on the Run in Central Park

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/25/fashion/26fitness-600.jpg Bess Greenberg/The New York Times

By LIZ ROBBINS (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/liz_robbins/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
Published: June 26, 2008

CENTRAL PARK was designed for refuge, discovery and communing with society. Not for running.


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/26/style/centralPark_promo.jpgInteractive Map (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/06/26/style/20080626_FITNESS_MAP.html)Trails Less Traveled (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2008/06/26/style/20080626_FITNESS_MAP.html)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/06/25/fashion/26fitness.1-650.jpgBess Greenberg/The New York Times

Yet 150 years later, its 843 acres are a paradise for runners. So why in the name of Frederick Law Olmsted (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/o/frederick_law_olmsted/index.html?inline=nyt-per) do so many choose to run in circles on the 6.1-mile asphalt road looping the park?

Because runners are creatures of habit. The workout is the thing, peace often found in the rhythm of repetition and the exploration of personal limits, rather than the surrounding natural space. Efficiency is of utmost concern.

Yet for those who choose to push the boundaries of Central Park, there is every type of workout — speed, hills, distance and exploration — for every kind of runner.

Start with the 4.2 miles of dirt bridle path, in three connected sections, which offer the truest sanctuary.

From there emerges a web of paved and wood-chipped trails, adding miles and topographical variety to any run.

Even at the risk of seeing those routes become more worn, coaches, local runners and staff members of the New York Road Runners shared their favorite off-the-beaten-path runs.

Consider this a primer for thinking, and then running, outside the loop.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

June 26th, 2008, 11:18 AM
I love that^trails less travelled, Tom Kelly's route in particular. Going to try it out my very next CP run. The 6 mile road route is a great run, but I prefer getting off the beaten path, less concrete, and more variety. Excellent.

Not to mention solitude....The last time I was back in the Loch area there were park rangers investigating the sounds of, what was obvious to everyone, a female orgasm emanating from the deep grasses of the wildflower meadow. They were laughing as they cautiously approached. Cute story.

June 26th, 2008, 05:07 PM
Everytime I go for a walk there I manage to lose my bearings.

I was in The Ramble one day and a couple of the paths were closed for safety reasons, so I had to detour. I had no idea which direction I was heading until I got into clear ground and was able to pick up a couple of locations I knew.

Those noises were probably me trying to find a way out. Ha Ha.

I've never been in the northern half of the park.

Good luck on your run, try not to step on anyone in the grass.

June 28th, 2008, 04:20 AM
Who Owns Central Park?

How Frederick Law Olmsted’s 843 acres of civilizing wilderness became a type-A battleground.

By Gabriel Sherman
Published Jun 22, 2008


It’s shortly before six on a recent morning in Central Park. Dogs frolic, off-leash, through meadows. Joggers breeze along the roadways. In the half-lit hours just past dawn, the park is the urban idyll that its founders, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, envisioned at the park’s birth, 150 years ago.

But then you hear it, approaching in the distance, a stiff wind rustling leaves. The presence grows louder and crescendos until—whooooosh—they’re upon you: a teeming pack of cyclists bursting around the corner in a flash of neon spandex. Runners brandish their fists—or middle finger. Dogs and their owners scramble across the road, lest they be run down by the onrushing horde. It is every biker, runner, or canine for him, her, or itself. Before many New Yorkers have even had their first cup of coffee, the ongoing battle for Central Park is in full swing. “People think the park is a refuge, when you’re actually going into a cage match,” says Chris Yerkes, a Citi staffer who races on an amateur cycling team in the park. “You can liken it to an area which has no local government, no rules,” Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer told me. The current situation is a New York City case study of the economic phenomenon known as the tragedy of the commons, whereby a shared resource is, inevitably, overexploited. Although interspersed with the tragedy are moments of high comedy.

The struggle for Central Park is, in its essence, like any other New York neighborhood conflict, with the same kinds of seething antagonisms and the same immutable stereotypes. There are the old-timers (I was here first!), the colonizers (The park is ours!), and the new-money arrivistes (Who do you think you are?). Cyclists see runners as a domineering mass that has controlled the park since the jogging boom of the late seventies. “You’re not going to do a ride without having someone beam at you some feeling of resentment,” says Ken Harris, the president of the Century Road Club, the largest bike-racing club in the country. Runners, in cyclists’ view, shuffle along the road and are prone to swerve erratically in an iPod-induced trance. “Most of the runners have the headphones on so loud that they don’t have a clue where they’re going,” adds Thomas Kempner Jr., chairman of the Central Park Conservancy and a frequent cyclist. “There is a lot of hate,” nationally ranked cyclist Sarah Chubb, the president of Condé Nast’s CondéNet, tells me. “The Road Runners club can take over the entire park, and they get pissed at us if our races go past 8 a.m. The runners don’t stay where they’re supposed to stay, they’re wearing headphones, and they’ll scream at you if you ask them to get out of the way!”

Even cyclists’ efforts to communicate with pedestrians can trigger physical resistance. Yerkes recalls one ride when a pedestrian attempted to clothesline him as he called out that he was passing by. “That made me think that I’m going to stop communicating and just speed past people if I’m going to get coldcocked by some guy,” he says.

Runners, not surprisingly, see cyclists as out-of-control maniacs orbiting the park at terminal velocity. And the cyclists’ vivid, skintight plumage doesn’t help, to say the least. On a recent Saturday morning, Jerry Macari, a running coach and the owner of Urban Athletics on Madison Avenue, had a dustup with a cyclist on the west side of the park near 79th Street, as he stood on the sidelines of a running race. “He’s whizzing by me and screams, ‘You’re an asshole for being in the lane!’ ” Macari recalls. Not to be outdone, Macari lobbed an expletive back. “The reality is, the bikers feel safe because they’re riding away when they yell something at you.”

The conflict between bikers and dog owners is, if anything, even more fraught. In 2006, a coalition of about 50 citywide dog groups won a lawsuit that protected their right to keep dogs off-leash before 9 a.m. and after 9 p.m. in designated areas, and they vigilantly guard their canines’ freedom. Recently, accidents between bikers and dogs have left relations raw. “Several times, while crossing with the signal, I and other dog owners have had close calls with cyclists bombing through the light,” one commenter rails on the Website Urbanhound.com. “Our dogs—and ourselves—have nearly been hit by the arrogant idiots. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to yell at them: ‘Red light! You have a red light!’ Most ignore us. One guy had the gall to shout back that dogs aren’t allowed off-leash in crosswalks (huh????). I yelled, as he kept going, that I was a pedestrian, in the crosswalk, under a walk signal [expletive deleted].”


Just who is at fault, of course, is a subjective matter. “No one ever tickets the bicycle people!” says Susan Buckley, president of the dog group Central Park Paws. “They should.”

On a recent morning in the park, I stood with a group of about a dozen dog owners as their dogs romped near the Great Lawn. The mention of the word biker triggered an angry Pavlovian response. “We want to ram a stick through their spokes!” one dog walker said. “Or string up some trip wire across the road!” another chimed in, apparently pleased with the joke.
Over on the west side of the park, I found similar anti-bike sentiments. Standing with a group of dog owners, Kelly Deadmon, a flaxen-haired actress, with her six-year-old basset hound, Barney George, stiffened when I asked about the state of dog-bike relations. “They all think it’s the Tour de France,” she said, recalling how a bike had clipped Barney George a couple of years ago. “When you try to cross the road, that’s when they speed up like a bunch of Lance Armstrong wannabes!”

For a cyclist, however, loose dogs can be a mortal threat. Caryl Gale, an accomplished cyclist and creative director at a fashion company, slammed into an unleashed dog that darted into the middle of a bike race last summer. “It was like going into a brick wall,” Gale told me. “It’s ridiculous,” she said, that dogs are allowed to run off-leash near the roads, and it was lucky that she walked away with only a fractured shoulder and a broken bike. Characteristically, she didn’t mention what happened to the dog.
And a bicycle traveling at upwards of 40 mph is no longer a toy but a potentially deadly projectile. In August 2005, David “Tiger” Williams, a former Yale hockey star who founded the hedge-fund-trading firm Williams Trading, accidentally rode his bike into a homeless man who was crossing the road along the east side of the park during an early-morning bike race. Williams suffered compression fractures in his back. The unidentified man was killed. (Williams was not charged with any wrongdoing.)

To begin to understand the pressures that have been building in Central Park in the last few years, a good place to start is about 60 blocks downtown. The Cadence Cycling & Multisport Center, set on a windswept block hard against the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, occupies a sparsely furnished 11,000-square-foot loft. The place looks like a gym dropped into the middle of an art gallery. Sober black-and-white photographs of New York sporting events adorn the walls alongside racing bikes—some costing as much as $30,000—hanging like sculptures from racks. The cavernous training room can hold two-dozen riders spinning in place on their own bikes, and projectors hanging from the ceiling can display virtually any racecourse in the world onto three giant flat-screens set against exposed brick walls. Cadence opened its doors last year. Its founder, Jay Snider, son of the Philadelphia sports mogul Ed Snider (chairman of the Flyers and 76ers), seeks to tap a market of Wall Street clients who desire scientific training methods previously reserved for professional athletes. “It’s the kind of person who does a spreadsheet for their dating life,” says Alex Ostroy, the founder of the local cycling Website nyvelocity.com. “You can slice and dice the numbers all day long. It’s addictive, and you can see yourself making progress.”

“The type of personality who is attracted to cycling or triathlon is an addictive personality,” Karim Pine, Cadence’s marketing director, tells me. “I always say there is very little difference between an endurance athlete and a heroin addict. It’s the same type of person who has to hit that button again to get that buzz.”

Inside New York’s tightly woven bike-racing community, there’s a rift between the old-school riders and what they see as the new-money poseurs who have imported the aggression and boorishness of the trading floor. Another group of poster boys for this new breed of cyclist is a cycling club called Foundation. Founded in 2000, the team has a large contingent of Ivy League and finance types. Established teams were exclusive, with strict admissions tests based on performance, and cliquey. But Foundation’s admissions policies were looser, and Central Park soon became dotted with bankers and lawyers sporting Foundation’s signature fire-red jerseys. Not everyone was pleased with the upstarts. “They had a reputation for being squirrelly riders,” says Alex Ostroy, a coach of the NY Velocity team.

At first, Foundation floundered. Two years ago, it finished dead last in the local rankings. The team’s official mission is to raise money for charity, but its members also harbored competitive ambitions, so they went out to assemble a winning squad. “They did what the Yankees do: They got a couple of big guys from other teams,” David Wagener, who has his own private-equity firm, says. Last year, some of the team’s wealthy patrons kicked in money, in part to recruit new talent. The team’s endowment grew significantly, and this season, Foundation lured star Colombian rider Lisbon Quintero from another New York team. Since he arrived earlier this season, Quintero has already won three races, and the team is now No. 1 in New York.

Rivals gossip that Foundation pays bonuses to Quintero for each victory. “If it’s a club event, there’s no reason to pay a bonus,” Mike Sherry, the director of the Empire team, tells me. Racers have been known to hiss “Ka-ching” when Quintero crosses the finish line. Foundation’s founder, Inson Wood, denies that the team pays riders to win. “There’s no bonus policy,” he tells me, saying that the team only buys cycling gear for its top riders, just like other competitive teams. “Cash bonuses are not what we’re about.”

Last summer, Ken Harris, the CRCA president, received an irate e-mail from Mark Albertson, who is with advertising-and-design firm the Concept Farm, after an altercation erupted with a Foundation rider in Central Park. “At 6 a.m. one of these guys started an exchange with me that led to a two-mile dialogue which resulted in the guy hitting me on the back repeatedly, trying to take me down. Fortunately for me, his riding skill left him on the ground,” Albertson wrote. “Something has to be done about these animals … Retaliation on the part of these guys will not be tolerated.”

There’s one issue about which runners, cyclists, and dog owners are in full agreement: cars. For years, Transportation Alternatives, the bicycle-advocacy organization, has been waging a campaign to banish cars from the park. “We’re incredulous that we don’t have a car-free Central Park already,” Transportation Alternatives executive director Paul White tells me. “The anger you see in the park is similar to the ire you see in Park Slope with the double-wide strollers. Our view is, Don’t get mad at the stroller moms. Get mad at the city for providing such limited car-free space.”

In this effort, having business titans on your side is an advantage. Last April, about two dozen executives signed a letter delivered to the mayor’s office arguing that the administration’s car policy is hurting the city’s ability to prevent hedge funds from decamping to Greenwich, or Wall Street jobs’ being shipped overseas. “The talent pool we seek to draw from is increasingly focused upon maintaining personal fitness. They are disproportionately triathletes, marathoners, and the highly fit. Cycling in particular is a key interest, and has become a key business-related networking activity,” the group wrote. “What about the loss of yet another team of financial professionals, formerly based on Wall Street, who decide to move to Connecticut to start a hedge fund, because life is just too difficult in New York City?”

While many in the city might view this as a desirable outcome, last summer, as a concession, New York’s Department of Transportation expanded the car-free policy in Central Park by an hour per day. But White and his coalition aren’t satisfied. “This debate is very emblematic of the challenge all of New York faces: It’s about the politics of public space. Who gets that space? And how is it apportioned?” White says.

With the death of congestion pricing, many are hoping progressive traffic policy in the park will rise on Bloomberg’s agenda. In May, Scott Stringer sent a letter to the Bloomberg administration asking for a three-month car-free trial in the park this summer. “The car should not take precedence in the transportation hierarchy in the borough,” Stringer told me.

For now, though, the park’s users must make do with the park they have, not the one they want. “Everybody knows they’re a little bit wrong here. This stuff can be fixed pretty easily if people put their heads together,” Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy, says.
Already, the precinct in the park is doling out tickets to bikers who ignore red lights. On a recent morning, I saw a half-dozen cyclists pulled over in the span of twenty minutes and served with $50 tickets. Their reactions ranged from surprise to indignation.

If tensions continue to rise, the Parks Department might be forced to step in with more-drastic measures. One proposal would set up barriers at congested intersections to slow bikers and runners, a move that Parks commissioner Adrian Benepe hopes doesn’t happen. “The best thing to do is to expect people to behave like adults and be respectful that your liberties aren’t infringing on the rights of others,” Benepe tells me. “People need to behave more like members of a shared society and less narcissistically.”
Benepe’s dream is as beautiful as Olmsted’s park. And if you believe it’s going to happen anytime in the near future, you might be interested in purchasing—cheap—a large parcel of heavily wooded real estate in the center of Manhattan.


August 4th, 2008, 05:38 PM
August 4, 2008, 4:34 pm

In Central Park, Happy Birthday to Zoo

By Sewell Chan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/schan/)

Sea lions took part in a celebration to mark the 20th anniversary of the new Central Park Zoo, which the Wildlife Conservation Society manages. (Photo: Ruth Fremson/The New York Times)

A menagerie of officials, baseball players, children and sea lions marked the 20th anniversary today of the reopening of the Central Park Zoo. After a five-year, $35 million renovation, the zoo reopened on Aug. 8, 1988 (http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=940DE4DA1F3DF93AA3575BC0A96E9482 60), under new management. The Wildlife Conservation Society (http://wcs.org/), which also runs the Bronx, Queens and Prospect Park Zoos and the New York Aquarium, took over the completely new 5.5-acre zoo, which had become known by the early 1980s as a decrepit and depressing habitat for animals.

Although the new zoo — designed by Kevin Roche John Dinkeloo Associates (http://www.krjda.com/), the architectural firm that also has designed most of the additions to the Metropolitan Museum of Art — is 20 years old, animals have been housed at the zoo even before the earliest part of the park opened to the public, in the winter of 1859. Months earlier, in 1858, a bear cub was donated to the city and placed in a “pound” behind the Arsenal (http://www.centralpark.com/pages/attractions/arsenal.html), which was completed in 1851.

Known as the Central Park Menagerie since its official founding in 1864, the site was remodeled and renamed the Central Park Zoo in 1934, under the leadership of Robert Moses, the parks commissioner and development czar. Aymar Embury II, the bridge designer who collaborated with Moses on projects like the Triborough Bridge, designed neo-Georgian brick and limestone zoo buildings in the form of a quadrangle around a sea-lion pool, designed by Charles Schmieder.

After decades of neglect, the city agreed in 1980 to renovate the zoo, with the Wildlife Conservation Society managing it. The demolition of the old zoo buildings continued until 1984, and the new zoo began to be built in 1985, but cost overruns delayed the project. The zoo is now a popular tourist attraction, recording a million visits a year. Next June, the zoo is scheduled to open a new snow leopard exhibit that will replicate the evergreen forests in the mountainous region of Central Asia.

The authoritative history of Central Park, Sara Cedar Miller’s “Central Park: An American Masterpiece” (Harry N. Abrams, 2003), contains an interesting story about plans for a dinosaur exhibition at the Central Park Menagerie.

In 1869, the British sculptor and artist Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/geology/chamber/hawkins.html) set up a studio near the Arsenal to build life-size models of dinosaurs. The effort was inspired by discovery of the Hadrosaurus — the “first-known complete skeleton of a dinosaur on the North American continent” — in Haddonfield, N.J., in 1858.

Hawkins hoped to circumvent the corrupt administration of Mayor William M. Tweed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boss_Tweed) (known as “The Boss”) by creating a separate museum for the dinosaur models, but his plans were wrecked in 1871 when Tammany Hall henchmen entered Hawkins’s studio with sledgehammers, destroying the concrete and iron dinosaur models and then carting them away for burial. Months later, The New York Times published an explosive series of articles about embezzlement and corruption at City Hall.

The management of Central Park became much less politicized, but the remnants of Hawkins’s dinosaurs were never found. A Brooklyn College Web site about this little-known chapter of New York City history (http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/geology/chamber/hawkins.html) states:

They still rest somewhere under the sod of Central Park, probably not far from Umpire Rock and the Heckscher ballfields (see picture and Central Park map at left). Could one of the pitchers’ mounds really be a small embankment covering the severed head of Megalosaurus? Who knows, maybe so.
Among those attending the celebration ceremony on Monday were Adrian Benepe, commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation; relief pitcher Scott Schoeneweis and catcher Brian Schneider of the Mets; and Jeff Sailer, director of the Central Park Zoo.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

August 7th, 2008, 06:08 PM
The City Visible

Crisp Whites, and the Crack of the Mallet

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/03/nyregion/thecity/croquest600.jpg Andrew Henderson/The New York Times
More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/02/nyregion/080308-Croquet_index.html)

Published: August 3, 2008

IN a 0.69-acre patch of pristine grass in Central Park, slightly northeast of the bustling Tavern on the Green (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/t/tavern_on_the_green/index.html?inline=nyt-org), sits a tranquil world that seems a decorous holdover from the 19th century.

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/08/02/nyregion/080308-Croquet-B.JPGSlide Show (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/02/nyregion/080308-Croquet_index.html)Wickets on the Green (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/08/02/nyregion/080308-Croquet_index.html)

Spectators gazing over the chain-link fence that encloses two meticulously maintained 15,000-square-foot fields see an unexpected sight: men and women, dressed entirely in white, hitting colored balls with a heavy wooden mallet through strategically placed metal wickets.

The game, of course, is croquet, a sport that was first played in the 14th century by French peasants, and one that has been played in Central Park since 1972.

“It is a game that makes you forget all your troubles in life,” said Chuck Loving, a plastic surgeon who has been a member of the New York Croquet Club, one of the major users of the fields, since 1990.

The club was founded in 1967 by Jack Osborn, who established the American rules for croquet, and S. Joseph Tankoos, whose holdings included the Delmonico Hotel at Park Avenue and 59th Street. Members range from 19 to 86 years old, and they include college students and investment bankers.

Although some of the newer members discovered the sport by searching the Internet, many began to play after watching games with their faces pressed up against the fence. And many nonplayers are delighted by the opportunity simply to watch.

“I like that you can walk through the park and find gems like this,” said Deven Stephens, a graphic designer from the Upper East Side who was observing a game one recent afternoon. His wife, Michelle Stephens, added, “I appreciate that something so quiet can be in New York City


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

September 23rd, 2008, 12:49 PM
September 23, 2008, 12:38 pm

What Spider-Man and David Blaine Have in Common

By Jennifer 8. Lee (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/jlee/)

David Blaine hanging upside down on Monday for his 60-hour stunt at Wollman Rink in Central Park. (Photo: John Marshall Mantel for The New York Times)

The team behind David Blaine (http://davidblaine.com/)’s 60-hour upside-down stunt at Wollman Rink this week is the same team that helped Spider-Man soar through New York City in the recent movies.

Randy Beckman, an 18-year veteran of film stunts, runs a 40-person company ( based in Valencia, Calif., and is part of David Blaine’s “flying team.” (Mr. Blaine started hanging upside (http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gxsfhFmW71JZPr4OA8yqHI_v2GQwD93C2RRG0) down Monday morning at 8 a.m. in Central Park’s Wollman Rink, and he will end it with a “dive of death” at 10:45 p.m. Wednesday on a live ABC special that starts at 9 p.m.)

Randy Beckman, a stunt coordinator and a member of the Blaine “flying team.” (Photo: John Marshal Mantel for The New York Times)

Among the stunts Mr. Beckman has coordinated is a 250-plunge from a building in SoHo for Spider-Man 2, when the superhero reclaims his powers. For the plunge, the camera and the stuntman were mounted on separate rigs that were computerized to move in sync.

“Before we would go 10 feet a second, and now with the computer, we can go 43 feet a second,” he said. When they did everything by hand, they had to slow down the filming speed so it would be real time when it was shown on the screen. They are suspended using tech-12 cord, a Kevlar-based fiber commonly used for stunts.

His projects, which generally have six-figure price tags, often take a day to set up. For the launch of the Spider-Man 2 DVD (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,831976,00.html) in November 2004, Mr. Beckman was called upon to help Spider-Man, stunt man (http://www.nyse.com/pdfs/01-05_newsltr_integrated2.pdf)Chris Daniels (http://www.rothtalent.com/speakers/slist/daniels), ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange (pdf).

“We had to rig up in the attic of the New York Stock Exchange,” he said. “Before the bell, we took him up, clipped him upside down.”

They then had Spider-Man swoop down to ring the bell, flanked by with Sony executives. Mr. Beckman said, “They rung it as he was upside down, coming down.”

It was, he believes, the first time in the 212-year history of the stock exchange (http://www.nyse.com/about/history/1089312755484.html) that anyone had rung the bell upside down.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 8th, 2008, 03:49 AM
Giddyup! New Stable Returns Parks Department Horse Housing to Central Park

by Dana Rubinstein (http://www.observer.com/2008/author/dana-rubinstein)
October 7, 2008

This article was published in the October 13, 2008, edition of The New York Observer.

http://www.observer.com/files/imagecache/article/files/breaksGIDDYUP.jpg Malcolm Pinckney/ New York City Parks Department

Civilian horse-lovers were not the only New Yorkers to mourn the departure of the more-than-100-year-old Claremont Stables from the Upper West Side in 2007. The longest continuously operating stables in the city, at 89th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, Claremont had also been home to a handful of the Parks Department’s Mounted Patrol horses, which carried enforcement officers through Central Park, frightening would-be muggers and posing for pictures with tourists.

Following the stables’ funereal closure that April, those horses, including a sweet-tempered chocolate-brown equine named Monty, were relocated to less glamorous environs in places like the Bronx and Staten Island. In order to walk their stomping grounds of yore, they have to endure an uncomfortable road trip in a trailer.

Come 2009, Parks Department horse housing will return to Central Park. On Oct. 3, the Central Park Conservancy, which administers the park on behalf of the Parks Department, filed plans with the Department of Buildings to erect a stable in Central Park, at the so-called Zoo Garage, the cobblestone parking lot shared by Central Park Zoo and Parks Department staff, near the Fifth Avenue and 65th Street entrance.

The $200,000-plus,747-square-foot stables will house as many as five horses by early 2009.

Parks spokeswoman Cristina DeLuca said that four or five horses will rotate through the stables, to give them “a change of scenery every now and then,” and that Monty will be among the first guests, along with horses named Pete, Joc and Apollo.

“When Claremont Stables closed up, we lost the opportunity for public riding, and for Parks Enforcement Patrol horses,” said Doug Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy. “This gives us an opportunity to keep them in the park.”



© 2008 Observer Media Group

October 9th, 2008, 04:32 AM
October 8, 2008, 4:14 pm

Does Central Park Need Any More Praise?

By Sewell Chan (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/author/sewell-chan/)

Central Park was named one of 10 “Great Public Spaces” of America. (Photo: Michael Kamber for The New York Times)

The American Planning Association (http://www.planning.org/) on Wednesday announced that it had designated Central Park (http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/spaces/2008/centralpark.htm') as one of the 10 great public spaces in the United States. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Greensward Plan (http://www.centralparkhistory.com/timeline/timeline_1850_greensward.html) of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the 1858 document that established the aesthetic vision for the park.

The designation is part of a new program, Great Places in America (http://www.planning.org/greatplaces/), which the association hopes will highlight the role of careful planning in developing streets, neighborhoods and public places that matter.

Last year, in the first year of the Great Places program, the planning association named 125th Street in Manhattan as one of 10 great streets and Park Slope in Brooklyn as one of 10 great neighborhoods (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/10/04/park-slope-and-125th-street-are-named-great-places/). This year, “great public spaces” was added as a third category.

What do these annual lists really accomplish?

The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s yearly list of the 11 most endangered historic places (http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/11-most-endangered/) tends to prompt hand-wringing, letter-writing and even changes in public policy.

But by all accounts Central Park is in as good shape as ever. Calling it “the gold standard for U.S. city parks,” the planning association noted that Central Park has gone through periods of decline and revitalization.

In the 1920s, the park was home to “worn carriage drives from increased automobile traffic, muddy paths, overgrown or dead trees and shrubs, unrepaired bridges, and littering and vandalism.” Robert Moses, the regional development czar, revitalized the park during his tenure as parks commissioner, from 1934 to 1960.

In the ’60s through the ’70s, Central Park again fell into decline, until the Central Park Conservancy (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/c/central_park_conservancy/index.html) was founded in 1980 to restore and manage the park (http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageNavigator/aboutcon_history_1980_1988).

In a phone interview, William R. Klein, director of research and advisory services at the American Planning Association, said the Great Places program was “intended to make the point that we know a good place when we see it.”

He added:

These places didn’t just happen by accident. These places were the result of inspiration and action taken over a long period of time, and the cumulative effect of that inspiration and action results in what you see today. We’re trying to single out places that are great — not places that are threatened or in decline.
Mr. Klein, who lives in Chicago, waxed a bit about his own memories of Central Park:

I was a user back in the bad old days of decline in the ’70s, when I heard Duke Ellington and others play at the skating rink. I was a 17-year-old kid from Syosset, a suburban kid experiencing Central Park for the first time. It was a wonderful experience.
My wife was born and brought up in Manhattan and lived a couple of blocks from the park. She always told me stories from her formative years, of what an important place Central Park was to her. It was really the only connection they had to nature and open space and recreation.

The other great public spaces named by the planning association are:

Yavapai County Courthouse Plaza, Prescott, Ariz.
Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica, Calif.
Union Station, Washington, D.C.
West Side Market, Cleveland
Pioneer Courthouse Square, Portland, Ore.
Mellon Square, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Waterplace Park, Providence, R.I.
Waterfront Park, Charleston, S.C.
Church Street Marketplace, Burlington, Vt.
The 10 great streets, 10 great neighborhoods, and 10 great public spaces will be celebrated as part of the planning association’s National Community Planning Month (http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/10/08/does-central-park-need-any-more-praise/www.planning.org/ncpm) this month.

Mr. Klein said additional categories might be added to the Great Places program next year.


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

October 27th, 2008, 05:05 AM

Preparations are nearly complete for the opening of Chanel's Mobile Art in Central Park, a pavilion designed by Zaha Hadid to display art inspired by a Chanel purse.
Photo: Michael Falco for The New York Times


Copyright 2008 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

March 30th, 2009, 07:16 PM
Shake Shack Update: Central Park a No-go

3/30/09 at 3:14 PM

Earlier this morning, it seemed likely (http://nymag.com/news/intelligencer/55680/) that Shake Shack would be a leading contender for Central Park. But we just talked to Union Square Hospitality Group president David Swinghamer (regarding other matters — stay tuned for a Citi Field report), and while we were chatting, Danny Meyer's business partner dropped this bomb on us: "We think [the Sheep Meadow café] is an amazing site, but we elected not to respond to the RFP [request for proposal]. It could be an incredible place and someone is going to have a nice little business there. But it won't be us." This bodes well for Dovetail, which did respond to the city's call (http://eater.com/archives/2009/03/dovetail_9.php).


Copyright © 2009, New York Media LLC.

April 2nd, 2009, 12:55 AM
The birth of Central Park was during 1859.

July 15th, 2009, 09:10 PM
Here's a quick design I put together for The Reservoir in-fill. Mostly a natural (wooded) area with a cafe/restroom area.


July 16th, 2009, 11:32 AM
That's our emergency water supply.

July 22nd, 2009, 09:31 AM
Limited vision. I salute the bold plan to pave over Central Park and put in a regional airport.

July 22nd, 2009, 10:19 AM
And please tear down any towers that would interfere with the flight paths! ;)

September 4th, 2009, 06:07 AM
Right in the Middle of the City, a Place to Get Away From It


Among the pleasures of a Central Park getaway: a gondola ride where Andrés García-Peña rows and sings.

More Photos > (http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/09/04/arts/20090904-park_index.html)

The downside of catch-and-release fishing at the Harlem Meer in Central Park is that it is very difficult to actually catch a fish.

The upside — at least for me — is that it is very difficult to actually catch a fish, which means that there is no need to squeeze its gut, remove the hook and throw it back in the water.

Either way, both the squeezers and the squeamish will find fishing at the park’s picture postcard northeastern border a tranquil way to start a Labor Day weekend vacation. That’s right, vacation. If you can’t get to the mountains or the shore on this last big weekend of the summer, a Central Park getaway can provide city habitués with nearly everything they might want for a weekend away at a fraction of the cost.

Pining for European charm? Visit Belvedere Castle and take a gondola ride. Athletes can play tennis and basketball or rent bicycles and boats. Families who skip expensive theme parks can find a bite-size amusement park and a zoo, a vintage carousel, marionettes and a pool, while romantics can spy a garden wedding and dine lakeside at sunset.

The place to start planning a park vacation is the Central Park Conservancy’s Web site (centralparknyc.org). This nonprofit organization manages the park in conjunction with the city, and the site details all the park’s features, activities and history, along with giving printable maps and lists of restrooms, playgrounds and eating concessions. Arrange your days by geography, theme or whimsy.

So where to start? One spot is Ferrara’s outdoor cafe just inside the park at 60th Street and Central Park West. You can relax with cappuccinos and croissants at tiny metal tables while watching the pedicabs line up around Columbus Circle. (Stop first at Whole Foods in the basement of the Time Warner Center if you’d like to picnic later.)

The key to a successful family vacation is to limit ambitions. Don’t try to crowd everything in a single morning. Choose, for example, the Central Park Zoo or Victorian Gardens, the collection of whirling rides, games and shows that set up camp from May to mid-September in Wollman Rink.

For a more peaceful activity, stop by the Hans Christian Andersen statue at 72nd Street and Fifth Avenue, near the Conservatory Water, better known as the boat pond, where, from 11 a.m. to noon on summer Saturdays, storytellers hold court. This weekend, listeners can hear “The Emperor’s New Clothes” and excerpts from a Chinese epic, “Journey to the West.”

Kids can then run off their energy at the newly renovated Heckscher Playground, just south of the ballfields and the largest in the park. Swings, slides, climbing structures and a big sand pit are inside, as well as a large wading pool where smaller children can cool off.

If you skipped Whole Foods, try the Ballplayers’ House, and lunch on a salad or a burger and a beer while watching a baseball game. A few steps away is the beautifully restored carousel. Built in 1951, it resides under a huge red and white canopy and boasts 58 intricately hand-carved and colored horses.

Then devote the afternoon to boating. At the boat pond rent a battery-operated sail boat — like the one Stuart Little raced on — for $10 a half-hour. Even with the wired controls, navigation requires some skill; the controls move the rudder and sails, but you still need to catch the wind.

If you prefer muscle to wind power, walk across the road to the Loeb Boathouse, where you can rent a rowboat for $12 for the first hour and cruise around the lake and under Bow Bridge, one of the oldest cast-iron girder bridges in the country. Easily seasick? The boathouse also offers bicycle rentals. The hearty can do the 6.1-mile loop around the park, while dabblers can opt for a 1.7-mile spin by using the 72nd Street transverse to circle the Lower Loop.

Dockside dinner at the upscale Boathouse can be your splurge for the day, but you should reserve ahead if you don’t want to wait for a couple of hours. (There’s also an outdoor bar and grill at the Boathouse, which has a limited menu, or you can head south to the Sheep’s Meadow Café for barbecue.) Reserve a gondola ride as well ($30 for 30 minutes and available until 10 p.m.). Andrés García-Peña, in striped red shirt and straw hat, has piloted the craft — a present to the city from Venice — for the past 15 years. Standing on the boat’s back end, he serenades you with “O Solo Mio” and “Volare.”

Mr. García-Peña said he had planned to work on the gondola for only a couple of months at first, but fell in love with the job. “Every person who gets on this gondola is happy,” he explained.

A trolley service from the boathouse will shuttle you back to Fifth Avenue and 72nd Street at the day’s end. Some lucky few can even sleep in the park this weekend: there is an Urban Park Rangers sleepover scheduled for Saturday night. (Registration for this weekend has closed, though there is still time to register for the last campout of the season in Manhattan on Sept. 26 at Inwood Hill Park.)

Next morning, you may want to start the day with something more substantial — and expensive — than croissants, by eating brunch at Tavern on the Green. (A less expensive option is the Boathouse Express Cafe.) From the Tavern’s ornate luxury, head to the Ramble. Between 73rd and 79th Streets, this section of the park was meticulously designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux to appear as an untamed woodland. There is a free Amble Through the Ramble walking tour at noon on Sunday that starts at Belvedere Castle at 79th Street.

To cool off, consider heading north to take a dip in Lasker Pool, between 106th and 108th Streets and not far from the Meer. This weekend is your last chance to swim there before the pool closes. Though it is a welcome oasis for many urban families, I must admit that Lasker is not one of my favorite destinations. Aside from the shabby condition — it is clearly the poorer northern cousin of Wollman Rink — the city’s stringent rules for public pools can be irritating. In the interest of safety, visitors are prevented from bringing anything other than themselves and a bathing suit into the pool area. No keys, cellphones, suntan lotion, deck chairs or newspapers. On one visit I was wearing a blue T-shirt over my bathing suit. Sorry, the guard said, only white is allowed; colors could release dye into the water, she explained.

“But I’m not going in the water,” I countered. “I’m just here to watch my son.”

What happens if he starts drowning in the pool? she asked. “Would you jump in and save him?”

I couldn’t figure out what she was getting at, but instinctively replied, “Of course.”

“See,” she said triumphantly, “you might go in the water.”

I retreated to the locker room.

Borrowing a pole to fish at the nearby Meer doesn’t require any interrogation, just identification. The rangers at the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center offer a cup of soft corn kernels for bait. This Sunday afternoon, fishing poles will be collected at 2 p.m. instead of 4 because of a performance by the ARC Gospel Choir.

Grab a potato knish and a hot dog from a Knish Nosh stand on the way down to the North Meadow Recreation Center, midpark at 97th Street, where you can pick up a basketball or handball game. Or concoct your own sports relay by borrowing a field kit with Frisbees, bats, balls, jump ropes and hula hoops.

The Tennis Center is a few blocks lower, at 96th Street. Inside is a tiny pro shop, locker rooms and a small concession stand where you can buy a can of balls for $3.75 and coffee or ice cream to have on the shaded outdoor terrace while waiting for a court. Vacationers (and anyone else without a permit) can play for $7 an hour. Those without rackets can get their hearts pumping by jogging once or twice around the reservoir (1.58 miles).

Whatever combination of activities you choose, make sure to leave enough time — make it your Monday plan — for aimless wandering. That is surely one of the greatest charms of Central Park, and the one in which even native New Yorkers can experience the thrill of unexpected discovery. Sunbathers, in-line skaters, folk and ballroom dancers, tourists from every part of the globe, impromptu buskers, pet cats and dogs whose owners tote them around in baby carriages can turn up anywhere.

So find a bench and sit back. Even if you haven’t left home, you can watch the world go by.


September 18th, 2009, 11:21 PM
Calvert Vaux's Oak Bridge Rebuilt in Central Park

September 18, 2009, by Pete






http://cdn0.curbednetwork.com/cache/gallery/2575/3912091137_7a32629ba1_o.jpg (http://curbed.com/archives/2009/09/18/calvert_vauxs_oak_bridge_rebuilt_in_central_park.p hp)

Back in 1860 when Calvert Vaux and Frederic Law Olmstead gave the world Central Park, one key element at the northern end of the Lake (http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageServer?pagename=virtualpark_thegreatlawn_lake) was Oak Bridge, a span constructed of white oak and cast iron leading into the Ramble. That bridge has since been replaced twice, first with another fancy one in the 1870s (when it was renamed the Bank Rock Bridge (http://www.centralpark2000.com/database/bank_rock_br.html)), and then again in the lean years of the Great Depression by a utilitarian model in tubular steel with a wood plank floor. Now the original Vaux design, re-imagined by Jan Herd Pokorny Associates, is being reconstructed. Again we get carved white oak and cast iron, but now it all sits atop a very substantial base that should last for generations, or until Donald Trump pays for a solid-gold bridge with inlays of his initials.

Oak Bridge, Central Park (http://www.jhpokorny.com/oak_bridge_central_park.php?origin=%2Fd_servicespr eservation%2Fd010_restoration%2Findex.php&category=Restoration) [Jan Hird Pokorny Associates]
Central Park coverage (http://curbed.com/tags/central-park) [Curbed]

http://curbed.com/archives/2009/09/18/calvert_vauxs_oak_bridge_rebuilt_in_central_park.p hp

September 19th, 2009, 08:27 PM
Was hoping to take a walk across the newly re-constructed Oak Bridge yesterday, but it's not yet open (although the work there looks complete).

No doubt they'll soon allow more spill from Bank Rock Bay to pour over the concrete foundation and the Oak Bridge will sit atop a nice cascade of water.








oak bridge

September 21st, 2009, 11:34 AM
It looks great. That whole area has been transformed, it's a really wonderful part of the park and will be so nice to have all those fences removed once and for all.

November 5th, 2009, 06:41 AM
Adventure Central

Central Park Conservancy remakes pioneering playgrounds

Richard Dattner's Ancient Playground was one of two adventure playgrounds
recently refurbished by the Central Park Conservancy

Being a kid—or at least a playground designer—was a lot more fun in the 1970s, before the advent of telephone-book-thick ASTM standards, not to mention things like critical fall heights, head-entrapment guidelines, and the virtual outlawing of sand. “It’s almost like a police state, what you can and cannot do in a playground,” said Paul Friedberg, the landscape architect who created some of New York’s most innovative play spaces. “The freedom that we once had is just completely gone.”

A child plays in a water feature at the Ancient Playground.

But vestiges of that freewheeling age can be found in Central Park, where the spirit of adventure thrives thanks to restorations this summer of two pioneering playgrounds. In overhauling these spaces to meet modern safety and accessibility needs, the Central Park Conservancy has shown that safety and rambunctiousness can still coexist.

Designed by Richard Dattner in 1972, Ancient Playground was one of 21 Robert Moses–era playgrounds installed around the park’s perimeter. In the late 1960s, these spaces began to be remade in the style of postwar Europe’s adventure playgrounds, where children molded their environments out of bricks, timber, and tires. Dattner themed his space on the Egyptian collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, just across a transverse road at West 84th Street. “I thought it would be wonderful to teach kids something of ancient construction—the pyramids, obelisks, mastabas, and so forth—and relate in a kids’ scale to what was across the street,” Dattner said.

The central challenge of the renovation—the fourth of Dattner’s playgrounds to be reconstructed in the park—was to create a required clear space around the main playground elements. Among other changes, the conservancy’s designers created a regulation tire swing that mimics the original design, while increasing the size of Dattner’s tunnels for better visibility. Since sand is not considered an accessible surface material, designers used safety surfacing that matched the spirit of the original.

The West 100th Street playground, designed by Ross, Ryan, Jacquette Architects,
has also been restored by the conservancy.

The second playground, at West 100th Street, took its adventure-style form in 1972 to designs by Ross, Ryan, Jacquette Architects. The curving bridge, climbing cone, and water-spray feature have been restored, with the addition of complementary new equipment and resilient carpeting. A tree house was built around several mature trees, which were sadly removed after suffering damage during the August 18 storm. (The tree house remains.)

These respectful restorations are the latest sign that, 40 years later, adventure play is back. “In the 1970s, adventure playgrounds pushed the limits of demanding, physical play,” said Christopher Nolan, the conservancy’s vice president for capital projects. “We’ve been able to preserve the innovations that those playgrounds represented.” The two spaces join other playgrounds of this style, like the Rockwell Group’s Imagination Playground in Lower Manhattan, due to open next year, with a kit of loose parts that kids can use under the supervision of “play associates.”

Dattner, who consulted pro bono on his playground’s redesign, regards this latest generation of play spaces with a certain bemusement. “Much of my knowledge of the value of play has really been from the observation of kids playing with junk in the gutter,” he said. “The two major materials are sand and water. The rest is extra.”

Jeff Byles


December 3rd, 2009, 10:43 PM
acmace (http://www.flickr.com/photos/acmace/4047798937/sizes/o/in/set-72157622546326169/)

acmace (http://www.flickr.com/photos/acmace/4110024425/sizes/o/in/set-72157622546326169/)

acmace (http://www.flickr.com/photos/acmace/4048542472/sizes/o/in/set-72157622546326169/)

February 17th, 2010, 04:18 AM
Suggestion to mods: this thread seems to have become a place to post things in general about CP, so perhaps removing the "turns 150" from the title?

Central Park Rabies Alert: 2 Humans and 1 Dog Exposed

by Avi

The rabies outbreak in Central Park continues to spread, and now two humans have been exposed to the virus, one of whom was bitten by an aggressive and possibly rabid raccoon. A dog was also exposed after tussling with a raccoon in Central Park. Since the beginning of the year, 39 raccoons have been found with rabies in Manhattan, 37 of them in and around Central Park and 2 in Morningside Park.

One person walking around the northern edge of Central Park was bitten by ”an aggressive acting raccoon” on the thumb, said Sally Slavinski, Assistant Director of the NYC Health Department’s Zoonotic and Vector borne disease unit, in an interview Tuesday with the Westside Independent.

Another person attempted to help a sick raccoon on the West side of the park in the 70’s, and was likely exposed after putting fingers in the raccoon’s mouth to give it water. Slavinski said she doesn’t recommend attempting to help sick raccoons. Better to call 311 and let the authorities do that. Slavinski was unsure where in the park the dog was bitten. The dog and the two people were all treated and have not shown symptoms of rabies, the health department said.

The health department began vaccinating raccoons in Central, Morningside, and Riverside Parks on Tuesday and plans to continue doing so for 4 to 8 weeks. The department will be setting traps in the park for the raccoons, so they can inject them with the vaccine, tag them and release them back into the park.

“Traps will be placed in remote areas to keep pets and park visitors from disrupting them, and each trap will display city contact information for use in emergencies,” the health department said in a release (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/pr2010/pr007-10.shtml).

Slavinski says she thinks there are hundreds of raccoons in Central Park, though it’s unclear how many have rabies. The raccoon population grows quickly in the park because there aren’t natural predators to kill the raccoons and there is readily available food.

Here’s a city map (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/downloads/pdf/cd/animal_rabies_2010.pdf)(pdf) of where the rabid raccoons have been found. They appear to be mostly in the North of the park, though Slavinski says they have increasingly been found farther South as well.

“Once rabies gets into the raccoon population, it’s easy to transmit it rapidly,” Slavinski said.

We broke the story about the rabid raccoon problem last month. (http://westsideindependent.com/2010/01/13/rabies-spreading-fast-in-manhattan-parks-16-rabid-raccoons-found-since-december/)

Here’s how to protect against rabies, via the health department:

To protect yourself against rabies:

Do not touch or feed wild animals, or stray dogs or cats.
Keep garbage in tightly sealed containers.
Stay away from any animal that is behaving aggressively
Stay away from any wild animal that appears ill or acts unusually friendly. Call 311 or your local police precinct to report the animal.
Animals that have attacked, or seem likely to attack, should be reported to 911.

To protect your pet against rabies:

Make sure your dog or cat is up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.
Keep your dog leashed while outdoors unless at a specified off-leash area or park
Do not leave your pets outdoors unattended.
Do not try to separate animals that are fighting.
If your pet has been in contact with an animal that might be rabid, contact your veterinarian, and report the incident to 311.
Feed pets indoors.

If you are bitten or scratched by an animal:

Immediately wash the wound with lots of soap and water.
Seek medical care from your health care provider.
If the animal is not owned, and can be captured, call 311.
If the animal is a pet, get the owner’s name, address and telephone number so that the Health Department can monitor the animal.
To report a bite, call the Animal Bite Unit (212-676-2483) between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during the week. At night or on weekends, call 212-POISONS (764-7667). You can also file a report online at www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vet/vetegp.shtml (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vet/vetegp.shtml).
For information about medical follow-up, call 311 or your medical provider.

For more information about rabies in New York City, visit www.nyc.gov/health/rabies (http://www.nyc.gov/health/rabies).


February 17th, 2010, 05:04 AM
City Now Vaccinating Raccoons for Rabies


They’re in there: Raccoons in the Turtle Pond in Central Park awaited handouts on an October evening last fall.

After a rash of rabies cases (http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/cd/cdrab-borough.shtml) among the raccoons of Central Park and environs — 39 cases in Manhattan already this year — the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene announced on Tuesday the start of a mass raccoon-vaccination effort. Wildlife experts have begun trapping raccoons around Central, Morningside and Riverside parks, vaccinating them, tagging them and releasing them in the same location.

Since December, the health department said, two people and a dog have bitten bitten by rabid raccoons in the city. One of the people had been inadvisedly trying to nurse the sick raccoon back to health. People and dog were treated, and none developed rabies.


April 2nd, 2010, 11:30 AM

... more photos of Bethesda Terrace (http://ny-pictures.com/nyc/photo/picture/22852/looking_towards_fountain_bethesda_terrace)

April 6th, 2010, 03:08 PM
http://images.ny-pictures.com/photo2/m/25953_m.jpg (http://ny-pictures.com/nyc/photo/picture/25953/yellow_frog_zoo)

... more images of the Central Park Zoo (http://ny-pictures.com/nyc/photo/topic/2111/Central_Park_Zoo)

May 29th, 2010, 01:06 AM
Boating on the Lake (http://wirednewyork.com/parks/central_park/boathouse/) in Central Park


June 10th, 2010, 10:48 PM
scottdunn (http://www.flickr.com/photos/scottdunn/4047517899/sizes/o/)

June 11th, 2010, 12:27 AM
Does this guy ^ float around in a balloon?

June 11th, 2010, 09:22 PM
Just his camera.

June 11th, 2010, 10:15 PM
A castle (albeit, faux) in the city. Fantastic juxtaposition.

The twin-towered apartment buildings along CPW are the modern equivalent of the traditional castle, perhaps?

July 1st, 2010, 07:53 PM
I've never spent enough time in Central Park. Needs a couple of day's I think. One to walk around and see all that is there and another to just sit and watch the day go buy.

October 15th, 2010, 08:28 AM
As Autumn Descends on Central Park, Maintenance Crews Spring Into Action

In the fall months, nearly 100 gardeners and field staff set about repairing and refurbishing Central Park.

By Yepoka Yeebo

http://s3.amazonaws.com/sfb111/story_xlimage_2010_10_R1058_Cental_Park_in_the_Fal l_101010JPEG.jpg

slide show (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101014/manhattan/as-autumn-descends-on-central-park-maintenance-crews-spring-into-action/slideshow/popup/39946)

CENTRAL PARK — The end of summer in New York and the uptick in Manhattanites taking their leisure time indoors has turned Central Park into a bit of a ghost town — giving the Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/) the perfect opportunity to whip the place back into shape.

As autumn descends on Central Park, nearly 100 gardeners and field staff have sprung into action to groom, repair and refurbish the park, which, after a summer of heavy use is in need of more than a little attention.

While the Parks Department has suffered budget cuts of late, resulting in New Yorkers worrying about future upkeep of the park (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101006/manhattan/budget-cuts-put-new-yorkers-at-even-greater-risk-of-falling-trees), the Conservancy gets 85 percent of its funding from philanthropists, leaving its resources mainly intact.

There's a bench crew that goes around painting and repairing some of the 9,000 benches, a woodworking crew that tends to the bridges, a monument crew that looks after 55 sculptures and statues and a stonework crew that sets about retouching everything from stone arches to the Bethesda Terrace.

full article (http://www.dnainfo.com/20101014/manhattan/as-autumn-descends-on-central-park-maintenance-crews-spring-into-action)


November 13th, 2010, 08:24 PM


November 14th, 2010, 07:33 PM
I like whatever that is you're doing with the tint/contrast. Next time you're in CP, can you get a pic of the iconic San Remo like that? Thanks! :)

November 14th, 2010, 07:44 PM
Glad you like- it's called HDR photography... the Remo- i'll try ;)
here is a link for all info you ever wanted to know about taking HDR pics:
http://www.hdrspotting.com/HDRPhotoSpot/773/Lower_Manhattan_during_the_Magic_Hour.%0D%0A5_Expo sure_HDR._%0D%0A

November 14th, 2010, 07:57 PM
Based on what I read in that link, you have to take 3 pics with different shutter speeds. So you would have to have a more advanced digital camera, correct?

November 14th, 2010, 08:56 PM
3 pic minimum, I use 5 or more.
no you can't do it with a simple point and shoot- you need an SLR
that allows for multiple bracketed shots, usually at -2, 0, +2
and some sort of tone mapping software like Photomatix pro
+ photoshop.
Some of the newer digital SLR's will process HDR's with just the click
of a button (but the results aren't quite as nice).

November 15th, 2010, 01:28 PM
Ah. Guess I'll have to put that on my Christmas wish list. For 2011 that is. Btw my fave pic so far with your new cam is Bethesda Fountain. :)

January 7th, 2011, 08:57 PM
Egypt Threatens to Take Back Beloved Central Park Obelisk

Zahi Hawass said if the city doesn't repair Cleopatra's Needle, Egypt would take it back.

By Amy Zimmer

MANHATTAN — The Egyptian government is threatening to take back "Cleopatra’s Needle," the iconic obelisk behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art that has been in Central Park since 1880.

It was not being cared for properly, according to Zahi Hawass, the secretary general for Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, who is alarmed over the erosion of its hieroglyphics and wanted the city to restore it — or else.

"I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given," Hawass wrote in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Central Park Conservancy, and posted on his blog on Tuesday (http://www.drhawass.com/blog/obelisk-central-park).

"Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away," wrote Hawass, a world-renowned Egyptologist featured on the History Channel show, "Chasing Mummies."

The obelisk is one of the few "true antiquities" in the parks monuments collections, according to New York City Park Department officials. It was created in 461 B.C (along with its match now residing in Westminster in London) to commemorate Pharaoh Thutmose 111.

"I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt," wrote Hawass, whose warning was reported by LiveScience.com on Thursday (http://www.livescience.com/culture/Egypt-threatens-removal-central-park-obelisk-11106.html). "If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin."

In the 1980s, a Metropolitan Museum study by its conservation lab found that the granite was "largely inert and that damage to inscriptions on two sides, as well as the base of the monument, occurred at identifiable moments in the distant past, prior to the 20th century," according to Jonathan Kuhn, director of Art & Antiquities for the Parks Department.

"We have been working in recent years with the Metropolitan Museum and the Central Park Conservancy to further analyze the condition of the obelisk and monitor its condition," Kuhn said. "There is no evidence at this point of any significant ongoing erosion."


galvarez51's flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/galvarez51/4949235547/)


January 12th, 2011, 11:55 PM
The Last Citadel: Central Park's Gated Community Nearly Complete

By Laura Kusisto


On an August morning in 2008, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Central Park, crowds lined up for hours to take a ride in a hot-air balloon 30 stories above the park's southern end. Soaring above the trees, with a clear shot of the reservoir shimmering to the north and the midtown skyline to the south, for 10 minutes they glimpsed the elusive perfect view.

As the crowds gathered, a doorman at a faded rental complex nearby watched from an elderly resident's spacious 20th-floor apartment. "People were paying $25 just to see that view for 15 minutes," the doorman at 220 Central Park South recalled. "And I'm just sitting there, just looking out. To think, it's the best view in the city and he's got it for free, every day!"

Those days are numbered. Last month, tenants in 26 rent-stabilized units at 220 CPS ended their five-year battle to hold on to their perfect view, selling out to developers for a total of $40 million, according to public records reviewed by The Observer.

By this spring, all of the tenants at 220 CPS will have left the building, vacating one of the last remaining slices of affordable real estate lining the park and all but completing Central Park's transformation from a desirable address to one that's out of reach for everyone but the über-rich.

[URL="http://www.observer.com/2011/real-estate/generation-groundbreaking-buildings-park-pics"]SLIDESHOW: The Sentinels of Central Park. >> (http://www.observer.com/files/full/central_park_aerial.jpg)

Already, real estate brokers, architects and anxious (even envious) neighbors are turning their eyes to the sky, where a partnership of Steve Roth's Vornado Realty and Veronica Hackett's Clarett Group plans to erect an ultra-luxurious 41-story condo tower. It's expected to cost as much to build per square foot as the park's reigning luxury king, 15 Central Park West—and to emulate its grandeur.

In all likelihood, 220 CPS will be the last big development on the edge of Central Park for a generation, and a microcosm of the economic divide that is—literally—splitting the city.

A couple of weeks after Christmas, only a brilliant red poinsettia in the lobby of 220 Central Park South looked fresh. The toothpaste-green sofas were stained, the Berber carpet worn and the amber lacquer on the plywood paneling was starting to chip.

Sitting between Seventh and Eighth avenues, it is an unremarkable building for the area, decorated with pigeon spikes and rusty balconies. Wedged between a sleek black '60s condo to the east and the diminutive Gainsborough Studios to the west, it looks increasingly anachronistic in a Manhattan inundated last decade with sleek new condos, intermingling with the dowager co-ops that were already the domain of the wealthy and well-connected.

"Oh my God, you could not accuse it of being beautiful," said Paula Del Nunzio, a top broker with Brown Harris Stevens who's handled high-profile listings in the Columbus Circle area. "But it has a beautiful location."

Over the past decade and a half, Columbus Circle has been transformed from the site of car shows and bargain stores into one of the city's most coveted residential spots. It started in 1997 with Donald Trump's golden Trump International, a hotel-condo development rising 52 stories at One Central Park West, and really got going in 2004, when Steve Ross' Related Companies erected the angled, two-tiered Time Warner Center for $1.7 billion. Trump International put up an enormous sign, advertising, "We have the views you want," recalls Doug Russell, one of the current brokers in the building. Thus began the battle for the choicest view of Central Park.

The latest and best building in the area is 15 Central Park West, a 201-unit limestone tower that Robert A.M. Stern modeled after the Candela co-ops up the street. The developers started out offering units at roughly $2,500 a square foot—already a top price—but they kept asking more throughout the construction, in 2005 and 2006, until tags topped nearly $4,000. The resales have been more incredible: Recently, one of 15 CPW's developers, William Lie Zeckendorf, sold his penthouse for a city record $9,940 a square foot.

But with an 18-mile shot straight up the park and the somewhat startling reality that it will likely be the last of its kind for a long while, 220 CPS could render such sales figures quaint. Seasoned brokers note that it presents a singular opportunity to build a contemporary condo among predominantly older developments. In fact, because the border of the park along Fifth Avenue and Central Park West (except for some of the less desirable northern portion) is landmarked, this is a rare chance to build on the fringes of the park, period.

"It's about what's real and who really will have the view that's forever," said Mr. Russell, conjuring the perfect sales pitch: "The forever park view."

The Vornado-Clarett partnership, known as Madave Properties, bought the 1950s rental complex for $131.5 million in August 2005, just as 15 CPW was topping out.

The 220 CPS complex contains a 20-story building fronting the park and a 13-story one facing 58th Street, which the developers also plan to tear down to build a luxury tower.

Among the 130 units were 47 rent-stabilized ones, some of which have coveted park-facing balconies. In order to evict the residents and demolish the buildings, Madave needed approval from the state's Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which stalled on making a final decision while tenants fought the DHCR and Madave in court.

The developers originally offered tenants $300,000 each. But given that a market-rate apartment in the neighborhood commanded upward of $8,000 a month, that was small compensation. The tenants held out. Over the course of the next five years, the developers kept offering increasing sums of money. Last month, the remaining 26 holdout tenants accepted payouts of around $1.5 million each, according to public records.

Considering the precedent and the scope of a redeveloped 220 CPS, only a little is known about Vornado and Clarett's plans. In 2005, they tapped New Haven-based architects Pelli Clarke Pelli and SLCE Architects to draw up initial designs, which are available in the court files.

According to five-year-old plans, at least one tower could rise 41 stories, but the developers have bought up air rights that could allow it to go even higher. There would be 75 units, some more than 5,800 square feet, featuring formal layouts with libraries, terraces and multiple entertaining rooms.

Just like 15 CPW, the tower could combine the best of new and old design, Ms. Del Nunzio, the broker, said. At 15 CPW, architect Robert A.M. Stern used traditional prewar floor plans, adding modern touches like giant windows, master bathrooms and larger kitchens than a typical top-end co-op.

Madave estimated the project would cost as much as $500 million, or $1,800 a square foot, including the cost of the land. Similarly, when the Zeckendorf brothers tore down the old Mayflower Hotel and built 15 CPW, it cost an estimated $1,820 (in 2005 terms) per buildable square foot.

A person familiar with more recent ideas for 220 CPS said it would likely emulate 15 CPW's structure, with a shorter building facing the park and a taller tower behind it to maximize the views. There are, the source said, a small number of architects in the world who can achieve the desired cachet.

But others say the development should do more than imitate its predecessors—from 834 Fifth Avenue to 15 CPW. "I'm a believer that we live in the 21st century," said Andrew Dolkart, the director of the Historic Preservation Program at Columbia University, "and it should be a 21st-century design."

Meanwhile, Gary Barnett's Extell Development is already at work on a 90-story condo-hotel at 157 West 57th Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, that will be the city's tallest residential building. Two-twenty CPS will strive to meet it—if not in scale, at least in prestige. "It will affect what comes out of the ground at 220 Central Park South," Mr. Wallgren said. "It will set benchmarks in terms of price, amenities."

The developers have not specified a completion date, but a project of this size inevitably promises years of disruption to the area around it.

The Gainsborough Studios, a 105-year-old landmark co-op building with only 34 apartments, is pressed against 220 CPS's exterior wall, raising concerns that the construction will unleash the usual rats and noise. Moreover, 220 CPS will rise in front of developments at 219 West 57th Street and Extell's at 225 West 57th Street, blocking some views.

"The reality is likely to be better than the perception," said Mr. Russell, the broker. "For a while, people see something's going to happen and it's going to be bad, but in the end they can still see to the right, still see to the left."

Finally, finding early buyers willing to gamble on a new luxury condo in a depressed market will prove challenging. "With 15 Central Park West, the market was extremely ebullient and people wanted to come in as soon as possible," Mr. Wallgren said. "The challenge with new developments now is that there's a 'show me' attitude. The buying public wants to come in at a later point."

Should it work, though, 220 CPS could easily be the 15 CPW of its decade and the final citadel guarding the best park views from the masses. "Real estate is a sport here in New York," Mr. Wallgren said. "People want to get back in the game."


January 28th, 2011, 09:37 PM
Egypt Threatens to Take Back Beloved Central Park Obelisk

Zahi Hawass said if the city doesn't repair Cleopatra's Needle, Egypt would take it back.

By Amy Zimmer

MANHATTAN — The Egyptian government is threatening to take back "Cleopatra’s Needle," the iconic obelisk behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art that has been in Central Park since 1880.

It was not being cared for properly, according to Zahi Hawass, the secretary general for Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities, who is alarmed over the erosion of its hieroglyphics and wanted the city to restore it — or else.

"I am glad that this monument has become such an integral part of New York City, but I am dismayed at the lack of care and attention that it has been given," Hawass wrote in a letter to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the Central Park Conservancy, and posted on his blog on Tuesday (http://www.drhawass.com/blog/obelisk-central-park).

"Recent photographs that I have received show the severe damage that has been done to the obelisk, particularly to the hieroglyphic text, which in places has been completely worn away," wrote Hawass, a world-renowned Egyptologist featured on the History Channel show, "Chasing Mummies."

The obelisk is one of the few "true antiquities" in the parks monuments collections, according to New York City Park Department officials. It was created in 461 B.C (along with its match now residing in Westminster in London) to commemorate Pharaoh Thutmose 111.

"I have a duty to protect all Egyptian monuments whether they are inside or outside of Egypt," wrote Hawass, whose warning was reported by LiveScience.com on Thursday (http://www.livescience.com/culture/Egypt-threatens-removal-central-park-obelisk-11106.html). "If the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York cannot properly care for this obelisk, I will take the necessary steps to bring this precious artifact home and save it from ruin."

In the 1980s, a Metropolitan Museum study by its conservation lab found that the granite was "largely inert and that damage to inscriptions on two sides, as well as the base of the monument, occurred at identifiable moments in the distant past, prior to the 20th century," according to Jonathan Kuhn, director of Art & Antiquities for the Parks Department.

"We have been working in recent years with the Metropolitan Museum and the Central Park Conservancy to further analyze the condition of the obelisk and monitor its condition," Kuhn said. "There is no evidence at this point of any significant ongoing erosion."


galvarez51's flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/galvarez51/4949235547/)


Well, I guess its here to stay now after the "Twitter Uprising" in Egypt!

March 3rd, 2011, 09:08 PM
http://img130.imageshack.us/img130/4583/londonplanes01.th.jpg (http://img130.imageshack.us/i/londonplanes01.jpg/)

London Planes wait for Spring

May 31st, 2011, 01:40 PM
This is ridiculous. Bloomberg should cool his jets on this type of thing:

Musicians Near Central Park's Bethesda Fountain Told To Shut Up

HUFFINGTON POST (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/30/central-park-musicians_n_868732.html)
May 29, 2011

EW YORK -- No more impromptu open-air concerts near Central Park's Bethesda Fountain.

New York City officials are muzzling musicians who perform near the fountain by slapping them with nuisance summonses.

Last week, the city posted a Quiet Zone sign by the stone arcade near the fountain, whose great acoustics have drawn top-notch musicians for about a century.

Fines for violations range from $50 to $200. The Department of Parks & Recreation police started issuing summonses at Bethesda Fountain last month.

Baritone John Boyd was arrested and handcuffed after ignoring five summonses. Boyd tells the New York Post he has a right to free speech.

Copyright © 2011 TheHuffingtonPost.com

May 31st, 2011, 01:41 PM
Before Mayor Mike is done with his "Control the City" campaign, we'll have to rename it:


May 31st, 2011, 01:55 PM
Truly sad...Live music there was one of the best things about the area...we are fast approaching a Bloomberg POLICE STATE!

May 31st, 2011, 01:56 PM
I agree.

Eventually there will be little music, even less dancing, no sugar, salt or fat; absolutely no uncontrolled enjoyment of life allowed.

May 31st, 2011, 01:59 PM
Of course, putting up ugly-as-crap buildings and destruction of beautiful old structures will remain unabated.

July 7th, 2011, 08:59 AM
Proposal to ban Central Park loop cars screeches to halt
BY Rich Schapiro
Thursday, July 7th 2011, 4:00 AM


The city has put the brakes on a plan to temporarily ban cars along the Central Park "loop" - despite support from all six community boards surrounding the park.

The decision to halt the proposal, which is in line with Mayor Bloomberg's vision to make Manhattan more pedestrian-friendly, has left community board leaders scratching their heads.

"It doesn't make any sense," said Mel Wymore, chairman of Community Board 7, which spearheaded the plan.

"There's no downside to this."

Cars are allowed on the park's East, West and Center drives at specific hours on weekdays. On the weekends, the scenic roads transform into a haven for runners, bikers and Rollerbladers.

The community board-backed plan calls for the loop to be closed to cars at all times until Labor Day and perhaps beyond to allow researchers to collect data on how it affects traffic boroughwide.

This would allow the city to determine whether it would be feasible to make the car ban permanent, supporters say.

"We thought it was really a smart interim step," said Wymore.

The plan has received the support of Community Boards 5, 7, 8, 9, and 11. Community Board 10's transportation committee has also given it the green light.

When asked about the proposal, a spokesman for the Department of Transportation offered a curt reply.

"There are no plans at this time," said the spokesman, who refused to elaborate.

© Copyright 2011 NYDailyNews.com

July 7th, 2011, 09:54 AM
One of two things may have come up.

One, "someone" spoke to the Mayor and expressed their objection w/o a public disclosure.

Two, someone found something legal that they cannot directly countermand with this proposal (doing so may open up legal problems if someone looked hard enough.....).

I think the second is more likely, although both do not lend themselves to open disclosure....

July 7th, 2011, 11:05 AM
I think if there was a legal issue, it would have been stated, which would end any debate.

Instead you get, "No plans at this time" with no explanation. Sounds political to me.

July 29th, 2011, 07:29 AM
African-American Community Thrived Where Central Park Stands

By Leslie Albrecht


http://assets.dnainfo.com/generated/photo/2011/07/1311886987.jpg/image640x480.jpg (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110728/upper-west-side/africanamerican-community-thrived-where-central-park-stands#comments)
A historical map of Seneca Village. (Landmark West)

UPPER WEST SIDE — On Thursday afternoon, picnickers and sunbathers basked in Central Park's greenery near West 85th Street, but 160 years ago, the spot was home to a thriving, predominantly African-American village that was torn down to make way for the park.

An eight-week archeological dig this summer has shed new light on the community, Seneca Village (http://www.mcah.columbia.edu/seneca_village/), which existed from the 1820s to the 1850s and was home to close to 300 people at its height.

The village, thought to be the first community of African-American property owners in New York, spanned from West 81st to 89th street, between Seventh and Eighth avenues (now Central Park West).

Also home to Irish and German immigrant families, Seneca Village had three churches and a school, all of which were demolished in 1857 so the city could build Central Park.

Professors from Barnard College, City College of New York, Columbia University and NYU teamed up to lead a group of student archeologists, who burrowed into the soil to recover artifacts from the village.

Researchers already had some information about Seneca Village (http://projects.ilt.columbia.edu/seneca/start.html), because surveyors mapped the area before the city razed it. A census and other records of the time showed the names and occupations of families who lived in the village.

The excavation unearthed more clues about their daily lives. Among the finds were a roasting pan that looked like something out of a modern-day kitchen, a beer bottle, a shoe that probably belonged to a small woman or child, and pieces of tobacco pipes.

Researchers also uncovered the stone foundation of a three-story house where William G. Wilson, the sexton from All Angels Church, lived with his wife Charlotte and eight children. All Angels was the missionary parish of St. Michael's Church, which still stands on West 99th Street and Columbus Avenue.

Some discoveries were intriguing, said Cynthia Copeland, an education professor at NYU and public historian who co-directed the dig. Archeologists found large amounts of animal bones underneath households headed by women, which suggests that women were butchering their own meat, Copeland said.

The excavation officially ends Friday. On Thursday, intern Victor Luna scooped soil samples out of a pit in the hopes of finding seeds that would reveal what vegetables the villagers grew.

Luna, a 22-year-old anthropology major at City College who grew up in The Bronx, said the dig was an eye-opening experience.

"I'm from the city and I never imagined that people actually lived here," Luna said. "To me, it's always been a park. To find out that this was a successful, mostly African-American community was amazing. It's a part of history that's not really taught."

Some of the finds, such as candlesticks and delicate porcelain, suggest that the families of Seneca Village were solidly middle class, not working class, as many assumed, Copeland said.

"It all suggests that these were very resourceful people," Copeland said. "We've got proof now that this was a hearty group."

As the archeological team dug into Central Park's soil this summer, curious joggers and bikers would sometimes stop to ask questions. Some were dimly aware of Seneca Village, but mistakenly assumed it was a slave village, shantytown or Native American settlement, Copeland said.

"They expected to hear about Irish or Germans," Copeland said. "But they were shocked to hear about African-Amercicans living here, let alone property owners who were free."


August 9th, 2011, 06:56 AM
Controversial Redesign of Central Park's Cherry Hill Moves Forward

By Leslie Albrecht




CENTRAL PARK — A controversial plan to redesign Central Park's Cherry Hill moved forward Monday, despite criticism that the makeover will turn the popular plaza into a parking lot.

The city's Design Commission voted to approve the Central Park Conservancy's $1.4 million remake of Cherry Hill (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110419/manhattan/central-parks-cherry-hill-close-this-summer-for-redesign), a quiet spot at 72nd Street where visitors gaze out at Central Park's lake and enjoy an ornate fountain. The circular plaza was originally a scenic turn-around for carriages and the burbling fountain was a watering hole for horses.

The commission's vote clears the way for construction to start on the redesign this fall, with completion expected by next spring, said conservancy spokeswoman Dena Libner.

Cherry Hill lookout point was redesigned in the 1980s, but the conservancy says it needs another overhaul to bring it in line with park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original vision for the space.

The conservancy wants to level the plaza, which now has three different elevations, and resurface it with gray stone meant to resemble the plaza's original gravel surface. The plan also calls for new landscaping and more benches.

Preservation groups Landmark West! and Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side slammed the redesign (http://www.dnainfo.com/20110516/upper-east-side/redesign-of-central-park-lookout-delayed-after-criticism), calling it unnecessary and wasteful.

Some worried the new design seemed to be an attempt to turn the plaza into a parking lot for food trucks.

There are no plans to bring food trucks to Cherry Hill, Libner said, though the Parks Department is looking for "Victorian-era themed" food carts for the plaza (

The conservancy tweaked its proposal in response to some of the public criticism. It offered to keep the red brick surrounding the fountain, which one advocacy group had argued was an element that "set the fountain apart from the rest of the concourse," said Libner.

However, the Design Commission rejected that idea and asked the conservancy to use gray stone instead.

Cristiana Pena, senior director of preservation at Landmark West!, said it was "disappointing" that the Design Commission ignored the suggestions of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, which unanimously rejected the bulk of the redesign because commissioners felt Cherry Hill's existing look was already compatible with the park's historic design.

"A well-functioning, well-designed and historically relevant layer of Cherry Hill — and Central Park's — evolution will be unnecessarily lost," Pena said in an email.

Libner said the redesigned concourse will be more user-friendly for all park visitors, including horse-drawn carriages, pedicabs, cyclists and wheelchair users.

The conservancy made pedestrians' "visual experience" the top priority in the redesign, an aspect that was lost in the 1980's revamp, Libner said. Walkers will have a separate, defined path where they can view the lake.

"It really enhances the relationship that people on the concourse are able to feel between themselves and the rest of the park, particularly the lake," Libner said. "We found a way to evolve for the sake of our visitors and preserve Olmsted and Vaux's original intent."


June 25th, 2012, 04:37 PM
Central Park Pavilion Restored with Historic and Contemporary Concerns in Mind

The Heckscher Building

Until recently, the only way to enter Central Park’s oldest and largest playground was through a chain-link fence. The great Heckscher Playground, impressive in scale and amenities, did not have an entrance to match, but a recently completed renovation to the building has retuned the structure to it’s original use with a contemporary twist blending the building’s history with contemporary needs.

The Heckscher Building as a maintenance shed.

In 1926, an entrance gateway, similar to many classically-adorned brick breezeways in other New York City parks, was constructed concurrent with Heckscher Playground but did not last long. While Fredrick Law Olmstead’s design for Central Park provided huge swaths of public space, there remained a need for maintenance areas, and the original entranceway was enlarged and the transversal passage enclosed.

The Heckscher Building, with an arched copper roof and flemish bond brick, sat uninvitingly as a maintenance shed at the top of Heckscher Playground until 2004, when the Central Park Conservancy approached several architecture firms with a commission. The Conservancy wanted to retain the enclosed support space while restoring the breezeway entrance into Heckscher Playground. After consulting with several firms, Salam & Giacalone Architects was selected to design the building’s renovation.

The design posed several challenges to the architects. The Heckscher Building was designated a Scenic Landmark in 1974 as a part of Central Park. Under New York City Law, the “aggregate landscape features” in the park are under the control of the Landmarks Preservation Commission meaning the building with 1936 renovations was protected as well. Because the original playground gate had been significantly altered before landmark designation, restoration of a portal would need to respect both the original 1926 design and the 1936 enlargement while still addressing contemporary needs of the Conservancy. Another primary challenge for the architects was combining the two programmatic requirements: recreating a”portal for the playground” while preserving much needed space for maintenance staff and equipment.

To preserve and renovate the exisiting structure, Salam & Giacalone raised the maintenance space to the second floor, opening space in what was once the original 1926 breezeway. The second story is hidden behind the copper roof and accessible by stairs, requiring a steel frame throughout the building for structural support.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission, concerned with the appearance of the “relationship of the building to the historic landscape,” prevented installing exterior windows on the second floor. To bring natural light to the new space, the architects created a central light-shaft they refer to as an “oculus,” which also lights the passageway below. The interior passageway is decorated with ornamental pilasters, modern abstractions of those on the exterior.

This cross section of the building shows the insertion of a second floor
and the position of the light shaft at the center of the building.

A view of the Oculus from the breezeway below.


Copyright © 2011 | The Architect's Newspaper, LLC

October 23rd, 2012, 03:55 PM
NYC's Central Park gets $100 million donation from hedge fund billionaire

http://msnbcmedia.msn.com/j/MSNBC/Components/Photo/_new/121023-central-park-908a.photoblog600.jpgStan Honda / AFP - Getty Images file
New York City's Central Park covers 843 acres.

By Miguel Llanos, NBC News
Calling it the largest donation ever to a park in the U.S., New York City on Tuesday announced that hedge fund billionaire John Paulson had donated $100 million to the nonprofit that maintains Central Park.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg joined Paulson and others at a ceremony at the park's Bethesda Fountain Tuesday morning.
"Central Park is the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions," Paulson told reporters. "And I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small."
The donation will go to the Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralparknyc.org/), which in 1998 took over maintenance of the park's 843 acres.

The park's endowment is at $144 million. Its annual operating budget is around $46 million, and the conservancy provides 85 percent of that.
Half of Paulson's donation will go to the endowment, half to capital improvements.
Paulson has been a member of the conservancy's board since June, the New York Times reported (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/24/nyregion/billionaire-donates-100-million-to-central-park.html).
With a personal net worth estimated by Forbes at $12 billion, Paulson made his biggest profit in 2007 by betting the U.S. housing market would slump. When it did, triggering the recession, his correct bet netted him an estimated $4 billion.
Last year, however, his main funds had double-digit percent losses from premature bets on a strong economic recovery.
Paulson, 56, and his family will have a birds-eye view of the improvements -- they have a Fifth Avenue apartment facing the park's east side and overlooking its reservoir, BusinessWeek reported (http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-10-23/billionaire-paulson-donates-100-million-for-nyc-s-central-park).


November 21st, 2012, 08:34 PM

March 28th, 2013, 09:34 AM
You might not have realized this was going on unless you drove through the 86th St Transverse (https://maps.google.com/maps?q=central+park,new+yok,ny&ll=40.78306,-73.963737&spn=0.004111,0.010332&hq=central+park,new+yok,ny&radius=15000&t=h&z=17&layer=c&cbll=40.782886,-73.963638&panoid=R_bjQ68JFFbHI5HX_ur8Zg&cbp=12,317.61,,0,8.18). Wonder what they're going to do with the old buildings further down the road.

Landmarked Central Park Precinct Reopens After $61 Million Renovation

March 26, 2013 6:10pm | By Jill Colvin, DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

CENTRAL PARK — The city’s oldest police precinct is now one of its prettiest.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYPD brass gathered Tuesday to mark the reopening of the Central Park police precinct, following a $61 million renovation that replaced its leaking roof and dilapidated brickwork with a breezy atrium partially made of bulletproof glass.

“I know it wasn’t easy transforming the city’s oldest precinct into one of the most advanced,” Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said before cutting a blue ribbon in front of the landmarked stationhouse.

“As you can see, this project brings a 19th-century stationhouse into the 21st century, heralding a promising new future while preserving the legacy of the past," he said of the building, which dates back to 1871 and was first used as a horse stable and storage shed.

The building became the headquarters of the police precinct charged with protecting the 842-acre park in 1936.

But over the years, its brownstone facade and slate roof deteriorated, leaving it vulnerable to leaks, according to David Burney, the city's Department of Design and Construction commissioner.

In 2001, the precinct was moved into an adjacent parking lot to accommodate the reconstruction, which included repairs to the building's brickwork and roof, as well as the addition of a new, lightweight metal canopy over the existing courtyard to create an enclosed lobby with a glass atrium.

The building was also outfitted with new phones and computers, redesigned holding cells and locker rooms, as well as 2,300 square feet of new space.

But old elements remain.

The station’s old masonry, tile work and slate roofs have been restored. And inside, the brick wall of the park's old reservoir can be seen through glass windows along the east side of the building.

“It's modern and technological upgraded, but it’s true to its roots," said NYPD Captain Jessica Corey, the precinct's commanding officer.

Central Park, which is visited by more than 40 million people a year, has logged four serious crimes so far this year: two robberies, and two grand larcenies — one fewer than the same period last year, according to NYPD stats.

Crime in the park is down more than 20 percent since 2001, and 80 percent since 20 years ago, officials said.

“This facility underscores just how seriously the City of New York and its police department take our mission of keeping this park safe,” Kelly said.

The renovation, which began in December 2009, was originally expected to cost $46 million, but ballooned by more than 30 percent after crews encountered contaminated soil and old trolley tracks under the 86th Street transverse, a DDC spokesman said.

Police moved back into the building in June 2011, with the final construction completed in February, the spokesman said.

Read more and photos: http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20130326/new-york-city/landmarked-central-park-precinct-reopens-after-61-million-renovation#ixzz2OqBZkYkU

Front desk sort of looks like a Starbucks.

More from Architect's Newspaper (http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/57811)

April 12th, 2013, 11:08 PM
10 Bizarre Things That Could Have Been In Central Park

by Hana R. Alberts

http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/CentralParkNYTArticle-thumb.jpg (http://ny.curbed.com/uploads/CentralParkNYTArticle.jpg)

Ephemeral New York (http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/thankfully-these-were-never-built-in-central-park/) dug up a New York Times article from 1918 (PDF (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50F17FB355B11738DDDA80B94DB405B888DF1D3)) , pictured above, which details some wholly bizarre features and structures some folks wanted to build in Central Park in the 61 years since the park had opened. The map that some savvy infographic designers of yore created of what the park would have looked like should those ideas have come to fruition is a scary sight indeed, kind of like a creepy amusement park with commercial and residential development (!) rather than a serene natural space, and we're as glad as ENY is that they were never actually built. Here now, 10 of these ideas.

10) A 100,000-seat theater. SummerStage this surely is not.
9) A sports stadium. Go Central Park Yankees?
8) A burial ground for the city's "distinguished dead." Cemeteries are eerie and lovely in their own way, but beside the boat pond?
7) Grant's Tomb, which is the mausoleum for Ulysses S. Grant and his wife that ended up in Riverside Park, where it still stands.
6) Paving the entire lower end of the park. Those horses and buggies really preferred cement to clop/roll upon, of course.

5) Free swimming baths. What is this, Turkey?
4) A speedway that would have encircled the entire park. So that the Indy 500 would have been called the NYC 500, naturally.
3) Eliminating the circular or elliptical paths already laid down throughout the park in order to turn the walkways into more of a checkerboard. The neat 'n' tidy grid system of streets outside the park apparently quite compelling.
2) A "street railway" that would have run through the park. All aboard!
1) Last but not least, some brilliant bozos wanted to divide up the park and turn it into lots for buildings. Hey now, let's not give today's land-hungry developers any ideas...

If "Improvement" Plans Had Gobbled Central Park (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F50F17FB355B11738DDDA80B94DB405B888DF1D3) [NYT (PDF)]
Thankfully, these were not built in Central Park (http://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2013/04/12/thankfully-these-were-never-built-in-central-park/) [ENY]

http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2013/04/12/10_bizarre_things_that_could_have_been_in_central_ park.php

October 8th, 2013, 08:22 PM
Excellent news.

Central Park Conservancy will restore Revolutionary-era structures

Fort Clinton and Nutter's Battery will be spruced up. Goal is to celebrate New York's history.

By Simone Weichselbaum (http://wirednewyork.com/authors?author=Simone Weichselbaum) / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, October 8, 2013, 6:42 PM


The Central Park Conservancy will restore Fort Clinton, which sits atop this rise in the northeast corner of the famed greenspace.

George Washington didn't sleep there, but he did fight there — and now Central Park’s commanding officers want tourists to visit there.
The Central Park Conservancy wants to restore two Revolutionary War-era hills that played a small, but critical, role in America’s fight against the bloody Redcoats more than 230 years ago.
Washington’s rebels spied on British troops from both Nutter’s Battery and Fort Clinton on the east side of the park near the Harlem Meer. But the British later seized the high ground and built genuine fortifications there.
RELATED: RIDGEWOOD EVENT LETS YOU EAT LIKE GEORGE WASHINGTON (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens/ridgewood-event-lets-eat-george-washington-article-1.1434389)
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1479903.1381271915!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/fort9u-4-web.jpgHere is the granite cannon base in Fort Clinton, off of E.106 St. in Central Park. It will soon sport a refurbished century-old cannon

The Americans rebuilt them just in time for the War of 1812. The British never actually invaded, though it’s unlikely they were deterred by the less-than-imposing fort or battery, which was named after landowner Valentine Nutter.

The highlight of the renovation work is the restoration of a 18th-century cannon, which was pulled off the English warship HMS Hussar after it sank in the treacherous East River in 1780.
The cannon was donated Central Park shortly after in 1865, but was not installed in Fort Clinton until the turn of the century. In 1980, the Parks Department mothballed it.
RELATED: NYC'S FOURTH OF JULY IS A BLAST (http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/nyc-fourth-july-blast-article-1.1382365)
http://assets.nydailynews.com/polopoly_fs/1.1479904.1381271916!/img/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/landscape_635/fort9u-3-web.jpgHarlem skateboarder Marcus Harley, 16, shows off a trick on top of the abandoned cannon base in Fort Clinton of E. 106th St. Harley and his friends use the fort to practice their boarding skills.

But over the last 10 years, the Conservancy has spent $200,000 to spruce it up for reinstallation. And workers are resetting dozens of cobblestones at Nutter’s Battery to restore it to its post-colonial grandeur.
"The Conservancy hopes more visitors will start their visit to Central Park at 110th St. and move south," said Central Park Conservancy CEO Doug Blonsky.
There’s no timetable for the completion of the repairs or the reinstallation of the historic firepower. The delay was welcomed by several teens who use Fort Clinton for skateboarding.
"It makes me sad," said Harlem high schooler Marcus Harley. "I don't want to play with a cannon. It will become a tourist attraction. This is the chillest area in the park now."

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/uptown/battle-rages-central-park-article-1.1479907#ixzz2hBBboG00

October 11th, 2013, 12:33 AM

October 13th, 2013, 12:34 AM
Ohhhh, that it so cute :).

December 26th, 2013, 02:58 AM
With No Review, New Skyscrapers Darken Central Park

By Charlie Herman and Stephen Nessen
Rendering of view from southern section of Central Park with new Midtown skyscrapers. (Courtesy of The Municipal Art Society of New York)

A new report finds that the super tall skyscrapers going up along 57th Street will leave super long shadows across Central Park.

The Accidental Skyline (http://www.scribd.com/doc/193282206/Accidental-Skyline) from the Municipal Art Society (http://mas.org/) shows that the carousel, ball fields and zoo will be in the shade throughout the day.

The report points out that many of the buildings are being constructed "as-of-right," meaning public input or environmental reviews are not required. MAS suggests that changes to zoning rules that would allow for public input for hyper-tall buildings around key public spaces should be studied and reviewed.

MAS said new advances in building technologies that allow for extremely tall buildings to be built near open spaces like Central Park or the waterfront could affect the future of shared public spaces.

December 27th, 2013, 10:38 AM
But not to worry. Developers know what's best! And we must trust those in positions of power; they, too, are all wise in matters civic. We live in their shadows. Apparently now more than ever.

December 28th, 2013, 10:50 PM
^ Be this The Winter of Our Discontent?

April 27th, 2014, 08:28 PM

May 9th, 2014, 07:26 AM
The Lost Village In New York City
by Daisy Alioto

Smack in the center of New York City — in the confines of Central Park — there are ghostly vestiges of a 19th century neighborhood that once was vibrant and thriving but now is largely forgotten: Seneca Village.

It is considered by historians to be one of Manhattan's earliest communities of African-American property owners.

This much is known: Between 1825 and the mid-1850s, it was alive. Seneca Village was home to a variety of Americans. Most were of African descent, but there were also Irish and German and maybe some Native Americans, as well. The 1855 state census noted that 264 people lived there. The area had a school, three churches and some cemeteries.

A couple of years later, everyone in the village was told to leave and the neighborhood buildings were razed to clear the way for Central Park. In recent times, historians have begun exploring the village's past.

But for all the present-day records-probing and sites-excavating, there are still many unknowns surrounding Seneca Village.

One of the greatest mysteries: Researchers have not been able to find a single living descendant of anyone who was a resident of Seneca Village.

The Village Today

You can stroll around the area that was once Seneca Village by entering Central Park through Mariners' Gate at 85th Street and Central Park West. The grounds are flanked by and, at this time of year, dotted with tulip beds.

The village lay between 82nd and 87th streets, just east of Central Park West.

To trace a path that runs up to Central Park's expansive is to tread among the pines where the frame house and barn of village resident George G. Root once stood — in his time a stone's throw from two more houses, known to belong to Epiphany Davis. Andrew Williams, a free black shoe shiner, purchased three lots of land near there on Sept. 27, 1825.

The area has been examined closely by researchers. Anthropology professors Diana Wall of and Nan Rothschild of and adjunct instructor Cynthia Copeland of New York University, are founding members of the , which spearheads the study of the village in an educational context and its commemoration. The project's website offers an and photos from the site.

Cynthia explains how a number of events in the 1990s colluded to bring the history of Seneca Village to light. In 1991, a 17th and 18th century site of thousands of African burials was uncovered in Lower Manhattan. Now the , the discovery at the time spurred peopletothink about early African presence in New York City's history.

She also credits Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar, authors of a 1992 publication, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, for including Seneca Village in their section on pre-park history. The authors used material they found in the repository, where Cynthia was a curator. In 1997, the historical society mounted an exhibition, "Before Central Park: The Life and Death of Seneca Village," which was called a "piercingly emotional show" by .

In 2004, the historians began digging to see what they could find. They continued excavations when funding and time allowed. One focal point was the home of William Godfrey Wilson — a church sexton in the village — complete with vestigial signs of domestic life: pots and pans, a tea kettle and, particularly poignant in the imagining of the past, a child's shoe.

Looking For Descendants

Meanwhile, as the historians were hunting for inanimate representations of the lost village, the Seneca Village Project also began looking for living, breathing people who might have genealogical ties to those long-ago villagers. At the 1997 New York Historical Society exhibit, the names of Seneca Village residents were listed and visitors were asked if they or anyone they knew were related to those original denizens. The anthropologists made a similar query at a series of lectures about Seneca Village given around New York City in the early 2000s. They continue to make appeals whenever possible.

So far, not a single soul has come forward with true knowledge of any inhabitants.

Part of the problem, says Nan Rothschild, is not knowing where residents moved after the village was erased.

Diana Wall wonders if the contentious clearing of the area has shrouded its history in sadness and left a hole in family narratives: "Could it be," she asks, "that because people were evicted from Seneca Village, it was an unhappy part of their past that they chose to forget?"

Both researchers express a wish to dedicate more time to locating the residents, but with courses to teach and other projects, that's difficult. The excavation itself has served as a classroom for over 100 students, Nan estimates, and locating living descendants of the village would be meaningful to all of them.

"It would be nice to package it all up and tie it in a bow. But that's not history ... history is messy," says Cynthia. She remains hopeful about finding descendants of the villagers. "I believe they are out there."


July 13th, 2014, 09:10 AM
We don’t want cats going crazy chasing the lasers.


Nearly 3,500 Years Old, an Egyptian Monument Gets a Laser Cleaning

JULY 9, 2014

Christopher Nolan of the Central Park Conservancy surveyed the tip of the Obelisk.
It was transported to New York City in 1880. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Thutmose III (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/594493/Thutmose-III) thought big.His Obelisk (http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/obelisk.html), however, is being treated at the level of atomic particles.

Since early May, conservators have been cleaning the Obelisk with hand-held lasers. Inch by inch, as if a magic wand were being passed over the hieroglyphs, the flecked pink granite of Aswan, Egypt, has emerged from under Manhattan’s gray pall.

The Obelisk was first erected about 3,460 years ago at Heliopolis (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/260062/Heliopolis), on the outskirts of modern Cairo, to glorify Thutmose III, a pharaoh who has been likened to Napoleon. The Romans moved it to Alexandria, from where it was transported in 1880 to New York City, as a gift from the khedives (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/316576/khedive) who then ruled Egypt. It was re-erected on Greywacke Knoll in Central Park in 1881.

It should be an astonishing sight. But decades’ worth of sooty accumulation so darkened the Obelisk that it was becoming easy to overlook — if such a thing can be imagined of a 69-foot-high monolith behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art (http://www.metmuseum.org/about-the-museum/press-room/exhibitions/2013/cleopatras-needle).

That is why Andrzej Dajnowski and several colleagues at the Conservation of Sculpture and Objects Studio (http://www.csosinc.com/) were called in from Forest Park, Ill., by the Central Park Conservancy, which cares for 55 monuments in the park.

Cyclists passed the scaffolding encasing the Obelisk. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

On June 30, Mr. Dajnowski could be found more than halfway up the Obelisk, cleaning a hieroglyph for the “s” sound in a cartouche reading: “User-Maat-Re, beloved of Amun.” A few levels down, Robert Zarycki was passing a laser beam over a bowl-shaped hieroglyph representing a basket and the sound “nb,” or Lord. Together with a cartouche below, it read: “Lord of the two lands, User-Maat-Re, chosen of Re.”

User-Maat-Re is known today as Ramses II (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/490824/Ramses-II). He followed Thutmose III by about 200 years and added his own inscriptions to each face of the Obelisk, flanking those of his predecessor. A later pharaoh, Osorkon I, squeezed in short tributes to himself. (“Cleopatra’s Needle” is a misnomer for the Obelisk. She had nothing to do with it.)

Though the conservators wore bulky respirators and greenish goggles, the scene around the Obelisk did not look like something out of science fiction. The laser did not produce a ruby-red beam, but a white pinpoint. It did not hum eerily. It crackled.

The cleaning is to be finished in a week or so. After that, loose surfaces will be stabilized with a consolidating agent that binds stone particles at a molecular level. All the work should be finished in the fall, when the scaffolding will come down.

The $500,000 project is paid for by the private, nonprofit Central Park Conservancy (http://www.centralpark.com/guide/general-info/central-park-conservancy.html), which manages the park under contract with the City of New York.

In a report to the city’s Public Design Commission, which reviewed and approved the Obelisk project, the conservancy said the goal was “promoting its long-term preservation and enhancing the public’s understanding and experience.”

Bartosz A. Dajnowski used a laser machine to clean the structure. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

Diana Craig Patch, the head of the Egyptian art department at the Met, raised an intriguing possibility. “I think it unlikely that there will be more scholarship on the hieroglyphs as a result of the cleaning, but we may know more about how it was painted possibly,” she said. “Traces might be found.”

Conservancy officials considered using lasers, microabrasives or chemical cleaners on the Obelisk. Beginning in October 2012, each method was tested on a small patch of the monument’s south face. Experts were then convened.

“When everybody went up in a lift to see, by a great margin they said the laser had produced the greatest effect, with virtually no impact on the stone,” said Christopher Nolan, the conservancy’s vice president for planning, design and construction.

(In Athens, the ancient Caryatid statues of the Acropolis (http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/08/arts/design/caryatid-statues-restored-are-stars-at-athens-museum.html) have recently returned to public view after a laser cleaning (http://youtu.be/bwCNfQh8Woo).)

Laser cleaning exploits the difference in materials’ absorption properties, said Bartosz A. Dajnowski, Andrzej’s son and the vice director of the conservation company. The blackened deposits of soot absorb radiation from the laser much better than the lighter-color granite, which tends to reflect it. It is not unlike wearing dark clothes rather than whites on a sunny day.

In nanoseconds, the soot particles are turned into white-hot plasma. As they expand, they expel themselves from the granite. Because the laser emerges in infinitesimally short pulses, the stone itself is protected from overheating, Mr. Dajnowski said.

Though the beams would be too dispersed to cause harm to passers-by, Mr. Dajnowski said, tarpaulins are required on the scaffolding as an extra layer of safety.

After an intensely technical discussion, Mr. Nolan offered a more pedestrian explanation. “We don’t want cats going crazy chasing the lasers,” he said.


July 16th, 2014, 11:25 AM
The Lost Village In New York City
by Daisy Alioto

Smack in the center of New York City — in the confines of Central Park — there are ghostly vestiges of a 19th century neighborhood that once was vibrant and thriving but now is largely forgotten: Seneca Village.

It is considered by historians to be one of Manhattan's earliest communities of African-American property owners.

This much is known: Between 1825 and the mid-1850s, it was alive. Seneca Village was home to a variety of Americans. Most were of African descent, but there were also Irish and German and maybe some Native Americans, as well. The 1855 state census noted that 264 people lived there. The area had a school, three churches and some cemeteries.

A couple of years later, everyone in the village was told to leave and the neighborhood buildings were razed to clear the way for Central Park. In recent times, historians have begun exploring the village's past.

But for all the present-day records-probing and sites-excavating, there are still many unknowns surrounding Seneca Village.

One of the greatest mysteries: Researchers have not been able to find a single living descendant of anyone who was a resident of Seneca Village.

The Village Today

You can stroll around the area that was once Seneca Village by entering Central Park through Mariners' Gate at 85th Street and Central Park West. The grounds are flanked by and, at this time of year, dotted with tulip beds.

The village lay between 82nd and 87th streets, just east of Central Park West.

To trace a path that runs up to Central Park's expansive is to tread among the pines where the frame house and barn of village resident George G. Root once stood — in his time a stone's throw from two more houses, known to belong to Epiphany Davis. Andrew Williams, a free black shoe shiner, purchased three lots of land near there on Sept. 27, 1825.

The area has been examined closely by researchers. Anthropology professors Diana Wall of and Nan Rothschild of and adjunct instructor Cynthia Copeland of New York University, are founding members of the , which spearheads the study of the village in an educational context and its commemoration. The project's website offers an and photos from the site.

Cynthia explains how a number of events in the 1990s colluded to bring the history of Seneca Village to light. In 1991, a 17th and 18th century site of thousands of African burials was uncovered in Lower Manhattan. Now the , the discovery at the time spurred peopletothink about early African presence in New York City's history.

She also credits Roy Rosenzweig and Elizabeth Blackmar, authors of a 1992 publication, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, for including Seneca Village in their section on pre-park history. The authors used material they found in the repository, where Cynthia was a curator. In 1997, the historical society mounted an exhibition, "Before Central Park: The Life and Death of Seneca Village," which was called a "piercingly emotional show" by .

In 2004, the historians began digging to see what they could find. They continued excavations when funding and time allowed. One focal point was the home of William Godfrey Wilson — a church sexton in the village — complete with vestigial signs of domestic life: pots and pans, a tea kettle and, particularly poignant in the imagining of the past, a child's shoe.

Looking For Descendants

Meanwhile, as the historians were hunting for inanimate representations of the lost village, the Seneca Village Project also began looking for living, breathing people who might have genealogical ties to those long-ago villagers. At the 1997 New York Historical Society exhibit, the names of Seneca Village residents were listed and visitors were asked if they or anyone they knew were related to those original denizens. The anthropologists made a similar query at a series of lectures about Seneca Village given around New York City in the early 2000s. They continue to make appeals whenever possible.

So far, not a single soul has come forward with true knowledge of any inhabitants.

Part of the problem, says Nan Rothschild, is not knowing where residents moved after the village was erased.

Diana Wall wonders if the contentious clearing of the area has shrouded its history in sadness and left a hole in family narratives: "Could it be," she asks, "that because people were evicted from Seneca Village, it was an unhappy part of their past that they chose to forget?"

Both researchers express a wish to dedicate more time to locating the residents, but with courses to teach and other projects, that's difficult. The excavation itself has served as a classroom for over 100 students, Nan estimates, and locating living descendants of the village would be meaningful to all of them.

"It would be nice to package it all up and tie it in a bow. But that's not history ... history is messy," says Cynthia. She remains hopeful about finding descendants of the villagers. "I believe they are out there."


Reading a wonderful book at the moment called Paradise Alley. Portions of the story recreate (fictional) life in Seneca Village and all of New York City just as the residents were being evicted for the creation of CP.

September 25th, 2014, 02:52 AM
Excavated in Central Park: Traces of Anti-Redcoat Fortifications, Never Needed


A landscaping project in Central Park uncovered traces of 200-year-old fortifications. Roughly at the
center of the photograph was the site of a gatehouse at McGowan's Pass.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

It was August 1814. Panic held New York in thrall.

After two years of incoherent fighting, the War of 1812 was being waged in deadly earnest. No longer preoccupied with the Emperor Napoleon, who had been forced to abdicate the French throne, Britain trained its full military might on the ill-prepared United States. British troops captured Washington, setting fire to the Capitol and the White House. Twilight’s last gleaming was fast approaching in Baltimore. And the enemy’s control of Lake Champlain made clear that its route to New York City would be from the poorly defended north.

Kingsbridge Road, a rudimentary highway that ran from the mainland down Manhattan Island to New York City, suddenly looked like an invasion route.

Pressed into wartime duty, civilians fashioned impromptu fortifications wherever redcoats might appear, including McGowan’s Pass in Harlem (http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/mcgowns-pass.html), through which anyone on the Kingsbridge Road would have to travel to reach New York.

On the north side of the pass, the citizens drilled a line of holes into a rock outcropping. Iron rods inserted in those holes could have been used to help build a defensive wall linking three small fortifications — Fort Clinton (http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/fort-clinton.html), Nutter’s Battery (http://www.centralparknyc.org/things-to-see-and-do/attractions/nutters-battery-site.html) and Fort Fish — that guarded the pass and the surrounding countryside.

A drainage trench in which the foundation of the gatehouse (large stones)
and part of the Kingsbridge Road (small stones) were found.
Credit Central Park Conservancy

The British never came. And over time, the fortifications disappeared.

But you can still see the holes that were drilled in fearful haste 200 years ago.

They are just some of the surprising physical traces of the War of 1812 (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/181068/War-of-1812), including a short stretch of the Kingsbridge Road itself, found by the Central Park Conservancy during a recently completed reconstruction of the Fort Landscape (http://www.centralparknyc.org/about/programs/fort-landscape-programs.html) in the north end of the park. Within the landscape, McGowan’s Pass is in the hillocks south of the Harlem Meer.

The $2 million project was not driven by a desire to uncover the past. But because it involved digging up paths and installing new utilities in an area known to be rich in history, conservancy officials wanted to avoid any excavation missteps.

A rendering of the gatehouse at McGowan's Pass, over the Kingsbridge Road.

They hired Hunter Research (http://www.hunterresearch.com/about-us/) to examine plans of the proposed work, identify any potential areas of conflict and then physically explore any area where historical fabric might remain. The work was led by Richard W. Hunter, the president and principal archaeologist of Hunter Research, and Jim Lee, the principal investigator. They dug exploratory holes and trenches in 2013.

One trench revealed the foundations for the southeast side of a gatehouse that had been constructed, almost like a bridge, across McGowan’s Pass and over the Kingsbridge Road.

The investigation also revealed secrets hidden in plain sight. On a rock outcropping about 20 feet northwest of a stairway leading to the pass were several sharply delineated cylindrical scars, an inch or more in diameter. These are remnants of a stone splitting technique known as plug-and-feather (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cc/Using_plug_and_feathers_in_Hainan_-_01.ogv), Dr. Hunter said. The Harlem fortifications were built atop the very rock from which they were composed. It was a convenient quarry when time was of the essence.

Another set of quarry scars can be seen on an outcropping at the opposite side of the pathway. About 40 feet due west, across this large rock outcropping, are eight holes in a line. (Dr. Hunter said there were nine, but the ninth was hard to spot.)

On the north side of McGowan's Pass, citizens drilled a line of holes into a rock outcropping.
Iron rods inserted in those holes could have been used to help build a defensive wall.
Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

The holes may not have had a role in building the redoubt. They may simply have been started for a quarrying operation that was never finished. Or they may have been made at another time altogether and for a different purpose. However, Dr. Hunter said, “When you superimpose them on the historical maps, they are exactly where the defenses would be.”

Easily the most thrilling discovery occurred during the excavation of a 70-foot-long trench for a new drain pipe. There, a couple of feet under the soil, were the foundations for the northwest side of the gatehouse and a section of the bed of the Kingsbridge Road, made of smaller stones.

To conserve this find in place, a membrane of permeable geotextile was laid atop the historical stonework. The drainage pipe was set down over that, and the whole area was paved over. No visible evidence remains.

“We have learned so much more about this area of the park, particularly what was going on before the park was built,” said Marie R. Warsh, director of preservation planning for the conversancy, a nonprofit organization that manages Central Park under contract with the city.

“This wasn’t an archaeology project for the sake of archaeology,” she said. “It was an archaeology project for the sake of stewardship. Not that we weren’t excited by what we found.”


September 25th, 2014, 11:31 AM
...amazing, 150 years still looking good...

January 8th, 2015, 09:05 AM
Not always.





There's a gallery at Gothamist with 23 before and after comparisons. As noted in some of the comments, several comparisons are winter - summer; but the overall impression is stark. Those that think the only difference is a little landscaping have never experienced the park in the 1980s, or have short memories.

It was truly a mess. Penn Station was in much the same state. The difference is that Penn Station didn't get saved, and Central Park did. It seems absurd now, but it's not hard to imagine that if the deterioration continued, chunks of the park could have been sold off for real estate development.


January 9th, 2015, 08:59 AM
^ Amazing transformation after those gritty times of urban decay. Central Park wasn't alone back then.

January 26th, 2015, 09:41 AM
OMG, hard to believe looking at CP now.

Just how bad was Central Park in the 1970s?

The opening paragraph from a New York Times story published on May 26, 1977 sums it up well.

“In Central Park, the once-green lawn of the Sheep Meadow is wearing away, gradually becoming a dust bowl with overuse,” wrote the Times (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=9E0CE3DF153BE036A05755C2A9639C946690D6CF).

(click photos for larger versions)

https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkgreatlawn1970s.jpg?w=450&h=335 (https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkgreatlawn1970s.jpg)

“At the Bethesda Fountain, drugs are sold routinely, and the Duck Pond at night becomes a receptacle for beer and soda cans.”

https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkbelvaderecastle1970s.jpg?w=450&h=293 (https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkbelvaderecastle1970s.jpg)

Crime, graffiti, and decay are the buzzwords of 1970s New York City. And just because Central Park was the city’s jewel (https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2014/07/14/the-anonymous-men-who-built-central-park/) didn’t mean park structures and landscapes were immune.

Just look at this image of Belvedere castle (https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/the-victorian-folly-in-the-middle-of-central-park/). In the 1970s, meteorologists who read data from the weather instruments there (it was the highest point in the park and a prime spot to measure temperature) were planning to move because thieves kept stealing or destroying (http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive/pdf?res=990CE2DA1F39E334BC4A51DFB166838C669EDE) the equipment.

https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkdanacenter1970s.jpg?w=450&h=315 (https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkdanacenter1970s.jpg)

The park had deteriorated before, just after the turn of the century, and was brought back to life by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in the 1930s. But the 1970s level of decay is hard to fathom today.

https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkthemaine1970s.png?w=286&h=300 (https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkthemaine1970s.png)

The ancient Egyptian obelisk was spray-painted in white with the words “do it.” The fountain statue of the flutist in the Conservatory Garden was missing its flute.

Above, a boathouse from the 1940s was falling apart and defaced by graffiti. The statues of the monument at Columbus Circle were missing fingers, and the base was also graffiti-covered, at left.

One of the park’s lovely 19th century bridges (https://ephemeralnewyork.wordpress.com/2014/02/20/the-most-beautiful-bridges-inside-central-park/) is closed in this photo, a danger sign posted before it.

https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkbridge1970snyt.png?w=300&h=202 (https://ephemeralnewyork.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/centralparkbridge1970snyt.png)

Finally in 1980, after studies were funded to help figure out how to save the park, an administrator was appointed. And two park advocacy groups combined to become the Central Park Conservatory, a “board of guardians” to help restore the park to its former glory.

[Photos: the Central Park Conservatory; New York Times]