In December of 2009, I spent three short hours in Central Park. It was my first time inside. I was immediately in love.
It may sound cliché when you hear people talk about how much they love this park. You almost can’t put into words what it is, exactly, that draws people in. The reasoning can be different from one person to the next. Central Park is like America’s neighborhood park. It is full of people from all walks of life and all manner of interests. It is a respite from one of the busiest cities in the world, without having to leave said city. There are more things to do and see there than you can shake a proverbial stick at. And it is HUGE.
The city of New York acquired 700 acres of land in the center of Manhattan to build a park inspired by the public lawns and gathering spots of London and Paris. This plot of land was to elevate the prestige and reputation of our young country and to provide the backdrop for healthier pastimes and activities. Central Park became the first landscaped public park in the United States. An expansion in 1863 grew the park to its current size of 843 acres.
Despite a couple shady patches of history in the early 1900s and 1970s, Central Park is stronger than ever, overseen by the Central Park Conservancy, established in 1980. Through staff, volunteer, and donated efforts, the amazing architecture and landscape (with over 25,000 trees!) has become a near-picture-perfect marriage between man and nature.
Here are ways you can learn more about this great space:
- Central Park Conservancy – This official website will tell you all you need to know about how to enjoy and help preserve this important national landmark.
- Central Park phone app – Available for iPhone and Android, $1.99 will get you a complete pocket guide to events, maps, and attractions inside. There’s even GPS to help you out if you get lost.
- Central Park Zoo – Did you know there was a zoo inside the park? The zoo is part of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which seeks to study and conserve wildlife, both within the zoo program and in an animal’s natural habitat.
- Central Park in the movies – Central Park has been featured in hundreds of movies since the turn of the last century. A search on IMDB.com, one of my favorite sites, lists over 300 that have filmed inside its borders.
- Central Park on Etsy – The park has been the muse for many an art piece and photograph. See how these Etsians have translated their view of it.
- Central Park Sketching & Art Meetup Group – Want to be artistically inspired by the park, too? This group of over 2,000 members gathers regularly to enjoy the surroundings, meet other creatives, and make beautiful images.