A public park at the center of Manhattan, CENTRAL PARK sits on 843 acres of city-owned land and is the most visited urban park in the U.S. with approximately 35 million visitors annually.
It is 2.5 miles long - between 59th Street and 110th Street - and is 0.5 miles wide - between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West.
While the land in much of the park appear natural, it is almost entirely landscaped. Its several natural-looking lakes and ponds have been created artificially. The Park also contains walking tracks, Central Park Zoo, a wildlife sanctuary, several children's playgrounds, an outdoor amphitheater and the Boathouse Cafe'.
A total of 29 sculptures have been erected over the years. One of the most popular is "Alice in Wonderland. Our group took lots of pictures here.
“Liberty and Union, Now and Forever, One and Inseparable.”
—Daniel Webster (1782-1852)
Gordon W. Burnham commissioned Thomas Ball to sculpt a larger-than-life-size version of a statuette he had created in the mid-19th century for Central Park.
Located on the West Drive of the Park, facing east, the bronze standing figure rests on a tall granite plinth where two carriage drives meet, near the foot of present-day Strawberry Fields. Ball had originally wanted the figure of the Massachusetts senator to stand on the Mall; but it proved to be too big. The miniature statuette by Ball was one of the first mass-produced pieces in the United States; it had been patented and repeatedly reproduced.
The towering bronze, presented by Burnham to Central Park in 1876 was cast in Munich, Germany.
“A monument standing at the mouth of the Narrows, looking out over the ocean, would form a memorial worthy of the brave fellows who died while on duty for their country.”
—William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951) Hearst believed that the mouth of New York Harbor was most suitable location of the Maine Monument
Standing at Central Park’s southwest entrance, known as the Merchants’ Gate, the Maine Monument honors the 260 American sailors who died when the battleship USS Maine exploded in Havana Harbor on February 15th, 1898. This incident led to a declaration of war by the United States on Spain, which still held Cuba as a colony. It is widely believed that the United States blew up the USS Maine as a deliberate act to give cause to go to war. When the Spanish-American War ended in December of 1898, Spain gave control of Puerto Rico and Guam, and surrendered the Philippines to the United States. Cuba was granted its independence.
William Randolph Hearst, publisher of the New York Morning Journal, called for a public subscription to erect a monument honoring the sailors within four days of the USS Maine’s sinking. The newspaper collected large gifts of cash, as well as schoolchildren’s pennies totaling thousands of dollars over a period of a few years.
As the architect for the project, H. Van Buren Magonigle designed the monument and Attilio Piccirilli sculpted the figures and the massive central pylon of the monument. These men worked together on the Firemen’s Memorial in Riverside Park at West 100th Street. The gilded bronze figure of Columbia Triumphant (see photo #4), atop the monument, is drawn in a seashell-shaped chariot by three sea horses. This grouping was cast from the recovered bronze guns of the Maine.
The allegorical grouping (see photo #2) entitled “The Antebellum State of Mind: Courage Awaiting the Flight of Peace and Fortitude Supporting the Feeble” is configured as a ship. A youth at the ship’s prow holds his hands in the sign of Victory. The Atlantic and the Pacific (see photo #3) are represented by reclining figures at the side fountains. The names of those who lost their life on the Maine are chiseled on side of the pylon above the oceans.
The Merchants’ Gate entrance to Central Park was named by the Commissioners of Central Park in 1862. The aim was to honor commerce and business professions for their contribution to New York City.
“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one. I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one.”
—John Lennon (1940-1980)
Strawberry Fields, a memorial to John Lennon, a member of the rock and roll band The Beatles, is a peaceful area within New York’s Central Park. Located across the street from Lennon’s home at The Dakota, a 19th-century apartment house, the memorial was named for one of the Beatles’ songs, “Strawberry Fields Forever.” Recorded in 1966, the song’s title references an orphanage in Liverpool, England where Lennon played with the children.
On 26.March.1981, the New York City council approved legislation, introduced by then-council member and future Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern on 18.December.1980, which designated this area as Strawberry Fields. The ground-breaking ceremony was held on 21.March.1984. Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono donated $500,000 to renovate and redesign this area of Central Park, as well as an equivalent sum for an endowment that would provide ongoing maintenance for Strawberry Fields. Yoko Ono worked closely with landscape architect Bruce Kelly and the Central Park Conservancy to create this tranquil spot. Strawberry Fields was officially dedicated on 9.October.1985, the 45th anniversary of John Lennon’s birth.
With a rich tradition of mosaic tile work, the Italian city of Naples donated the circular mosaic “Imagine”, paying homage to one of Lennon’s most popular solo hits. Based on ancient Greco-Roman designs, this simple art work has become a symbol of peace, Lennon’s much-sought after goal.
Central Park is New York City's largest public park, it is famous and been seen almost in any movie or TV program that is done in this city. There are many interesting sites and events in the park, you can visit the official link included here to learn more.
If you have read much of my New York page, you may have noticed that I always feel as if I am coming up short of funds when I visit New York, but parks are free aren't they? And New York's Central Park is one of the most amazing in the world, ranking second only to Hyde Park in my estimation, in spite of many of the "Law & Order" stories which are set in Central Park, all of which involve murder.
But most parks aren’t Central Park, Manhattan’s famed claim to thinking ahead (even if it was designed in the 1860s to boost real-estate values uptown). It’s filled with free events, statues, people-watching, and sites like Strawberry Fields, an ‘Imagine’ mosaic near the Dakota apartment-hotel, where John Lennon was killed in 1980. Another site is ‘the Pond,’ at the southeastern corner, where Holden Caulfield kept returning in ‘The Catcher in the Rye,’ wondering where those ducks go when it’s cold.
This 843-acre oasis in Upper Manhattan is always alive, with ice-skating in winter, open-air concerts in the summer, and carriage rides year-round. There’s a small zoo for the little ones, idyllic rowing opportunities on the lake, and sunbathing in picturesque Sheep Meadow.
“I really believe I was happier when I slept on a park bench in Central Park than during all the years of the ‘perfect lover’ stuff.”
— Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926)
One of Central Park’s many architectural treasures Greywacke Arch was built in 1862. The Arch underwent restoration in the 1980s; the Central Park Conservancy, a private organization, carries out this vital conservation work.
Greywacke is the variety of sandstone that is was used to build this arch. The material is found in the Hudson River Valley.
Designed by Calvert Vaux (1824-1895), one of Central Park’s two architects, Greywacke Arch spans a roadway leading to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The decoration of the arch includes fleur-de-lys, and the Saracenic point to the arch is reminiscent of Middle Eastern and Moorish-influenced Spanish style architecture.
On the eastern side of the Arch a musician usually is busking for dollars. Here a saxophonist plays; other times I seen violinists and accordion players.
Truly, an oasis of green in a concrete and steel jungle! Central Park is so beautiful - and much larger than you think! There is so much to see and do in Central Park - an ice skating rink, carousel, zoo, play chess and checkers at the aptly-named Chess and Checkers House, rent a pedal boat, fly a kite, etc. - but I loved just wandering around. The park is so peaceful, and joggers, walkers, and horse-drawn carriages seem to coexist quite well. I was disappointed that the carousel was closed for the winter, but my other "must sees" were easily accessible - the Alice in Wonderland statue and the Strawberry Fields memorial.
The last day of the meeting, we were set to have a nice dinner at Cafe Boulud, and it was suggested we walk from the Grand Hyatt there if we wanted to let some of the stress out. That meant strolling through the lower half of Central Park. This was a great suggestion, as it gave us the opportunity to see what the park has to offer. There is a ton of really cool scenery, where the foliage frames the city scapes. While there, we were able to see a number of neat statues, and also got to take in Bethesda Fountain. The park has a lot to offer - various playgrounds, sculptures, refreshment stands, and even an ice rink...and that was the half of the park we saw!
My suggestion is to have your phone with the GPS enabled or a really good map - it's easy to get turned around on some of the trails, and you might lose track of where you are. But I would highly recommend the walk in the park.
The Central Park is so huge that it's easy to overlook some of the smaller, more interesting as aspects of it. There are about 9,000 benches in the park, and the park administrators have come up with a novel way of looking after these benches - from a financial perspective - with the Adopt-a-Bench program began in 1986.
In return for their financial support, bench sponsors could have their personal inscriptions engraved on these benches. Many of these inscriptions carry personal messages, but the one that really caught my attention was this bench holding a promise - the promise - of marriage.
The picture was taken in November 2009, and a lot could have happened in two years, but if you happen to know this bench's sponsor, please do let me know if the promise had been fulfilled? A long shot, but well worth asking here.
This link takes you to the official website of Central Park's Adopt-A-Bench program.
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