Central Park is an urban park in Manhattan, New York City. It is located between the Upper West Side and Upper East Side, roughly bounded by Fifth Avenue on the east, Central Park West (Eighth Avenue) on the west, Central Park South (59th Street) on the south, and Central Park North (110th Street) on the north. Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with 40 million visitors in 2013, and one of the most filmed locations in the world. In terms of area, Central Park is the fifth-largest park in New York City, covering 843 acres (341 ha).
The park was established in 1857 on 778 acres (315 ha) of land acquired by the city. In 1858, landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect/landscape designer Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they titled the “Greensward Plan”. Construction began the same year, and the park’s first area was opened to the public in the winter of 1858. Construction north of the park continued during the American Civil War in the 1860s, and the park was expanded to its current size in 1873. After a period of decline in the early 20th century, Robert Moses started a program to clean up Central Park. Another decline in the late 20th century spurred the creation of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980, which refurbished many parts of the park during the 1980s and 1990s.
Central Park was designated a National Historic Landmark by the U.S. Department of the Interior in 1963, which in April 2017 placed it on the tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage sites.The park, managed for decades by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, is currently managed by the Central Park Conservancy under contract with the municipal government in a public-private partnership. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization that contributes 75 percent of Central Park’s $65 million annual budget and is responsible for all basic care of the 843-acre park.
Central Park, which has been a National Historic Landmark since 1962, was designed by landscape architect and writer Frederick Law Olmsted and the English architect Calvert Vaux in 1858 after winning a design competition. They also designed Brooklyn‘s Prospect Park. Central Park is the fifth-largest park in New York City, behind Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Van Cortlandt Park, the Staten Island Greenbelt, and Pelham Bay Park. Central Park is located on 843 acres (3.41 km2; 1.317 sq mi) of land, although its original area was 770 acres (3.1 km2). The park, with a perimeter of 6.1 miles (9.8 km), is bordered on the north by Central Park North (110th Street), on the south by Central Park South (59th Street), on the west by Central Park West (Eighth Avenue), and on the east by Fifth Avenue. It is 2.5 miles (4 km) long between Central Park South and Central Park North, and is 0.5 mile (0.8 km) wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.
Central Park constitutes its own United States census tract, number 143. According to American Community Survey 5-year estimates, the park’s population was five people, all female, with a median age of 19.8 years. However Central Park officials have rejected the claim of anyone permanently living there. The real estate value of Central Park was estimated by property appraisal firm Miller Samuel to be about $528.8 billion in December 2005.
Central Park’s size and cultural position, similar to London’s Hyde Park and Munich’s Englischer Garten, has served as a model for many urban parks, including San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Tokyo’s Ueno Park, and Vancouver’s Stanley Park. The park, which receives approximately 35 million visitors annually, is the most visited urban park in the United States. It is also the most filmed location in the world. A December 2017 report found that 231 movies have used Central Park for on-location shoots, more than the 160 movies that have filmed in Greenwich Village or the 99 movies that have filmed in Times Square.
The park is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profitorganization that manages the park under a contract with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in which the president of the Conservancy is ex officio Administrator of Central Park. Today, the conservancy employs 80% of maintenance and operations staff in the park. It effectively oversees the work of both the private and public employees under the authority of the Central Park administrator (publicly appointed), who reports to the parks commissioner, conservancy’s president. As of 2007, the conservancy had invested approximately $450 million in the restoration and management of the park; the organization presently contributes approximately 85% of Central Park’s annual operating budget of over $37 million. The system was functioning so well that in 2006 the conservancy created the Historic Harlem Parks initiative, providing horticultural and maintenance support and mentoring in Morningside Park, St. Nicholas Park, Jackie Robinson Park, and Marcus Garvey Park.
The park has its own New York City Police Department precinct—the Central Park Precinct—which employs both regular police and auxiliary officers. In 2005, safety measures held the number of crimes in the park to fewer than one hundred per year (down from approximately 1,000 annually in the early 1980s). The New York City Parks Enforcement Patrol also patrols Central Park. There is an all-volunteer ambulance service, the Central Park Medical Unit, that provides free emergency medical service to patrons of Central Park and the surrounding streets. It operates a rapid-response bicycle patrol, particularly during major events such as the New York City Marathon, the 1998 Goodwill Games, and concerts in the park.
While planting and land form in much of the park appear natural, it is in fact almost entirely landscaped. The park contains several natural-looking lakes and ponds that have been created artificially by damming natural seeps and flows. There is a large area of woods in addition to seven major lawns, the “meadows”, and many minor grassy areas; some of them are used for informal or team sports and some set aside as quiet areas; there are a number of enclosed playgrounds for children. The 6 miles (9.7 km) of drives within the park are used by joggers, cyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters, especially when automobile traffic is prohibited, on weekends and in the evenings after 7:00 pm.
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