New York City Central Park

  • Caption
    View of Park Detail
    5/15/1996 (creation)
Dates of park construction: 1857-1865
North and Central America->United States->New York->New York->New York Times Building->Manhattan ( borough)->Central Park
Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States and was built to compete with other European cities that had already incorporated public parks into their cities. It was thought that a park of this kind could offer a getaway for the wealthy as well as a healthy alternative for the working class of New York. Many peasants and pig farmers were displaced during construction. This particular site between Fifth and Eighth avenues and 59th and 106th streets was ideal because it was undesirable for real estate because of its swamps and rocky outcrops. It was later extended to 110th street where it remains today. After years of debate over the location, the park's construction finally began in 1857, based on the winner of a park design contest, the "Greensward Plan," of Frederick Law Olmsted, the park superintendent, and architect Calvert Vaux.
"The carved panels encasing the grand double stairs descending to the Bethesda Fountain and the lakeshore depict a rich profusion of animal and vegetal forms symbolizing the seasons of the year. Ornamentation like this, using images depicting nature's abundance in a manner similar to that of medieval stonecarvers, owes a debt to the writings of John Ruskin, an important influence on the intellectual and artistic culture of Victorian England and its counterpart in nineteenth-century America" (Rogers, 2001, p. 342). These carved panels depict the seasons and add to the intricacy of the terrace and fountain area.

Keywords: United States, New York, Kings County, New York, Manhattan, outdoor spaces, urban park, public, landscaped elements, hydraulic structures, fountain, terrace, water feature. Submitted by Raffaella Fabiani-Giannetto for LARCH 201: History of Landscape Architecture.
19th Century (1800 - 1899 CE)
Rogers, E. B. (2001). Landscape design: a cultural and architectural history. New York : Harry N. Abrams. p. 342.