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Thread: Central Park turns 150

  1. #16

    Default Central Park turns 150


  2. #17

    Default Central Park turns 150

    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

  3. #18

    Default Central Park turns 150

    CNN:

    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.

  4. #19

    Default Central Park turns 150

    Text from http://www.centralparknyc.org/virtua...awn/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.




  5. #20

    Default Central Park turns 150

    Central Park cityscapes - the San Remo




  6. #21

    Default Central Park turns 150

    June 29, 2003

    Reservoir's Sunken Fountain Is Rising From the Deep

    By KELLY CROW

    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

  7. #22

    Default Central Park turns 150

    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
    .

  8. #23

    Default Central Park turns 150

    At the recently renovated Pool, a white egret - the only bird that poses.

    Looks like a Japanese woodblock.




  9. #24

    Default Central Park turns 150

    Men & Machines


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

  10. #25
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    Default Central Park turns 150

    That looks like a destroyer. Ducklings would never fight a cruiser. They're not stupid, you know.

  11. #26

    Default Central Park turns 150

    I must be, because I don't know the difference.

  12. #27

    Default Central Park turns 150

    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.

  13. #28
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    Default Central Park turns 150

    Saw Elvis Costello on Friday night in Central Park's Summerstage. What a great place for a concert! Small, intimate and surrounded by trees.

  14. #29

    Default Central Park turns 150

    July 19, 2003

    Fountain Revived for Central Park's 150th

    By PATRICK HEALY

    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

  15. #30

    Default Central Park turns 150


    The fountain in the Central Park reservoir was turned on yesterday for the third time in the park's 150 year history.

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