Central Park

Central Park History: The Park Opens

Skating in Central Park
December 1859: After a decade of debate, designs and construction, the first part of the Park is opened – from the Lake south to 59th Street. 100,000 people make the trip North to ice-skate on the Lake by moonlight.


Behind the skaters is the famous Dakota Building, later to be the last home of John Lennon and the location for filming of horror classic, Rosemary’s Baby.  But when it was completed in 1882, it was so far north from the rest of the city, that people said that it might as well be in the Dakota Territory – which is where it got its name.

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Central Park: Bird’s Eye View 1863

In 1857, the city commissioners solicited designs for the park from any and all alike, and selected the Greensward Plan submitted by Frederick Law Olmstead and Calvert Vaux.  This lithograph by John Bachmann is a rendition of it.

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Origins of Central Park

William Cullen Bryant began to convince people that a park was needed, but where?  The original proposal, which came very close to passing, called for a park in an area named Jones’ Woods, along the East River between 66th and 75thStreets.


Local property owners were highly in favor, but soon others complained that it was unfair to develop a park accessible from only one side of the island.  Instead of a “one-sided park,” the city needed a “central park,” easily accessible from all of the city and its residents.

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