An urban park in Manhattan, New York, Central Park is located between the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side of the locality. It is roughly bounded on one side by Fifth Avenue. It is a famous tourist spot and the most visited park in the entire United States of America. An estimated 37- 38 million visitors arrive here annually. It is also a common location for shooting (films).
The Park was first approved in as far back as 1873. It covered 778-acres of land back then. In 1857, the famed duo – architect Frederick Law Olmsted and designer Calvert Vaux – won a design competition to construct the park. They called their architectural plans the ‘Greensward Plan’. That same year, construction began on the land and the park’s first few (completed) areas were finally opened to the general public one year later, in 1858.
Additional land for the park’s expansion was later purchased in 1859. Construction was finally completed in 1876. Today, Central Park covers an expanse of 843-acres and is the fifth largest park in New York City. The park was designated a National Historical Landmark site in 1963. It was also declared a New York City scenic landmark in 1974.
The park is home to a wide range of attractions. These include the Ramble and Lake, a 38-acre woodland and a 20-acre serpentine lake. The Central Park Zoo sprawls over 6.5-acres and is home to stunning exhibits. The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir stretches over 106 acres and is one of the most scenic areas of the park. Other park attractions include the Delacorte Theatre, the Wollman Rink, the North Meadow Recreation Center and the Central Park Carousel.
While it is owned by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation (NYC Parks), it is managed by the Central Park Conservancy – and has been since 1988. The Central Park Conservancy efficiently manages the park under a contract with the municipal government in a public-private partnership. The Conservancy is a non-profit organization. It contributes to 75 percent of the park’s $65 million annual budget. It is also responsible for the park’s basic care and maintenance.
Central Park is famous for its biodiversity. It is home to species of both flora and fauna. As of 2011, the park had more than 20,000 trees. Over four million trees, shrubs, and plants representing approximately 1,500 species have been planted or imported to the park. The Central Park Conservancy regularly maintains the park’s flora. The organization efficiently allocates gardeners to one of the 49 “zones” specifically for maintenance purposes.
Additionally, the park is home to several historical tree clusters. These clusters are steeped in the culture and are synonymous with New York itself. One of the most notable tree clusters at the park is a group of 4 American Elms. In addition, the park is also home to a grove of American Elm trees.
The American Elms found at the Central Park are the largest surviving group of this variety in the wider geographical area. Other notable tree clusters found at the park include Yoshino Cherry trees situated near the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir and a historic Black Tupelo tree.
The park is also frequented by various species of birds. During their spring and fall migration on the Atlantic Flyway ( which is a major north-south flyaway from migratory birds in Northern America), various different bird species fly through Central Park on their way to and from different locations across the United States of America. However, the park certainly has a much smaller bird population (in comparison) to Van Cortlandt Park.
More than 303 different species of birds have been documented in Central Park, ever since the first official records were published in 1886. August G. Paine Jr. and Lewis B. Woodruff were the first to publish their findings in Forest and Stream magazine that year. An estimated 200 different types of bird species are discovered every season.
Somewhere between 1890-1891, Eugene Schieffelin released his findings of more than 100 Starlings across the length and breadth of Central Park. Some of the more famous birds include a male red-tailed hawk called Pale Male.
Aside from birds, Central Park is home to about ten different species of mammals. These include bats, racoon’s, Eastern Grey squirrels and opossums. While chipmunks are not a common sight, they, too, inhabit the park’s boundaries.
Nearly 223 invertebrate species also reside inside Central Park. One such species is Nannarrup hoffmani, a centipede species discovered in 2002. It is the smallest centipede ever to be discovered anywhere in the world.
Other species living inside Central Park are turtles, fish and the Asian long-horned beetle. The latter is an invasive species that has infected many species of trees in Long Island and Manhattan. Most of the turtles in the park live in Turtle Pond. Many of them were former pets that were eventually released for them to be able to live a wild, free life.
1. Columbus Circle – A circular plaza at the southwestern corner of the park. Built in the 1860s, its largest feature is the column of Christopher Columbus standing in the center. The column was erected in 1892.
2. Grand Army Plaza – A square plaza in the southeastern corner. Completed in 1916, it contains the famed Pulitzer Fountain.
3. Duke Ellington Circle – A circular plaza in the northeastern corner of the park, it contains the memorial of the Duke of Ellington and was dedicated in 1997.
4. Frederick Douglass Circle – A circular plaza in the northwestern corner, it contains the memorial of Frederick Douglass and dedicated in 2010.
Central Park also has two indoor restaurants for visitors. Activities include guided tours (sometimes in horse drawn carriages) and recreation (including two ice skating rinks, 26 baseball fields and numerous pathways for joggers and runners).
The park is also a frequent site for concerts and live performances. Each summer, there are a multitude of events taking place for the tourists in the park. Central Park’s size has served as a model for many urban parks around the world. It was also placed on UNESCO’s list of tentative World Heritage Sites in 2017.