I know I promised more on our recent trip to Montreal, but after we took a trip to Central Park I couldn’t help but write about it. The only justification I have tying the two together is that Frederick Law Olmsted was the landscaper for Central Park as well as Mont-Royal Parc in Montreal. As a matter of fact he also designed the layout for the Wolrd’s Colombia Exposition also known as the Chicago Worlds Fair. Central Park is iconic, beautiful and a staple of New York City. In a city that is defined by one of the most recognizable skylines in the world there is a world that lies beneath and behind that skyline that is awe inspiring. Central Park was the first landscaped public park in the United States and built mainly for well to do residents who wanted a place comparable to parks found in London or Paris. Their theory was that it would give the city more notoriety and reason to be viewed as worth visiting. Construction of the site required over 20,000 workers who spread more than 3 million cubic yards of soil and planted more then 270,000 trees and shrubs.
Central Park officially opened in the winter of 1859 with some interesting rules and regulations. For instance you could not have group picnics on the great lawn and children were required to have a note from their principal in order to use the baseball fields. Concerts were allowed on Saturdays only and this would eventually change. Most laborers from the city, who had also helped built the park, were unhappy with concerts only being held on Saturdays. Reason being was they only had Sundays off and after some convincing, concerts were allowed on Sundays. In 1927 August Heckscher donated the park’s first playground and years later under Mayor LaGuardia there would be many more playgrounds to come.
By the 1970′s a combination of budget cuts and a mounting fiscal crisis had thrown the park into disarray. Upkeep was almost non-existent and attendance along with safety were dwindling. In 1980 the Central Park Conservatory was formed and through generous private donations the park was on the road to recovery. After spending a few short hours there we barely scratched the surface of what the park has to offer. There are bridges galore, the aforementioned zoo, cafe’s and a castle. Carriage rides are at every turn along with musicians, vendors and artists. The views along the outskirts of the park and in between the tree lines are superb. They are a reminder as to why the skyline is so recognizable. Needless to say this will be not the last visit to this wonderful park and it goes without saying if at all possible go see it for yourself. This time of year New York City is something to behold. There are buildings decorated for the holidays, people from all over the world and a buzz you can only get in New York while walking the streets at Christmas time. I will leave you with just a few more from today and wish you all a happy and healthy holiday season. Thanks and enjoy!