Central Park in NYC is in the middle of Manhattan, and has been open since 1857. Central Park is the urban park that receives more visitors than any other park in the U.S. Originally, the park was build on 778 acres of land owned by the city of Manhattan—Central Park is now 840 acres. Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmstead were the architects who won a design competition hosted by the Central Park Commission to improve the park and make the area larger. They named their architectural design the Greensward Plan. 1857 was also the year that the Greensward Plan efforts on the park began, and the design efforts continued during the Civil War until they were finished in 1873. The two designers also designed Prospect Park in Brooklyn.
The park was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1962, and is managed by the Central Park Conservancy, which is in contract with the Manhattan government. The Central Park Conservancy is a nonprofit, and contributes to more than 83% of the park’s annual budget of $37.5 million. The nonprofit organization also employs 80.7% of the maintenance staff for Central Park.
Central Park was not included in the Commissioner’s Plan of 1811. However, NYC’s popular nearly quadrupled between the years of 1821 and 1855. But since the park wasn’t part of the 1811 Commissioner’s Plan, surveyor John Randel Jr. surveyed the park—visitors can still see the only surveying bolt of his that remains in the park. The bolt is located in a rock that is north of the Dairy and 65th street Transverse. As Manhattan grew and flourished, people were attracted to Central Park for its open space, as it served as a place of solace from the hustle and bustle of life.
William Cullen Bryant, a poet and Evening Post (now the New York Post) editor, expressed the city’s need for a public park, as did Andrew Jackson Downing, who was the first landscape artist in America. A number of affluent New Yorkers echoed the sentiments of these men, agreeing that there was a need for a large, open space in the city of New York, similar to Hyde Park in London or Bois de Boulogne in Paris. There was an attempt in 1850 and 1851 to dedicate Jones’s Woods in New York as a park area. The state legislature agreed that this 700-acre area would be a park; the land cost $5 million.
Central Park remains one of the most appealing tourist attractions in New York, and in the U.S. Central Parks North, South and West border the main park area; Fifth Avenue is on the right of the park. Around 35 million visitors come to the park every year.