Central Park Tour:
Central Park, New York’s greatest monument, begins at Grand Army Plaza. Above you’ll find the original Savoy and Netherlands Hotels– today home to the GM Building and the Sherry-Netherlands– overlooking Fifth Avenue at the foot of Millionaire’s Row. Our Central Park tour begins here as well.
Horace Greeley, the famous Civil War editor of the New York Tribune, visited here as the first portion of the park was nearing completion. He looked around and said: “Hmmm—they have left it alone better than I thought they would.” But he was dead wrong: the land had been completely transformed. It had been nothing but a dismal swamp, surrounded by squatters’ shacks in a commune known as “Pigtown.” They used to say that you could smell Pigtown from six blocks away.
But if Greeley could make that mistake, then obviously it was a common one, for most Manhattanites had never been up this far north. But the greatest park in the World was no mean feat. It’s not like they just built a fence around it and left it alone. In fact, it was probably the greatest act of landscaping in world history.
More gunpowder was used to excavate it than in the entire battle of Gettysburg. 270,000 trees and shrubs were planted and 6 million bricks were laid by 20,000 workers over the course of 10 years. The total cost of $10 million was more than 3 times the city’s annual budget in 1860. Did you know that Tavern on the Green, once America’s highest grossing restaurant, began as a sheep barn? Or that during the Great Depression, hundreds of homeless families set up tent cities in the middle of the park, called “Hoovervilles”? In fact, the city got rid of the sheep because they were afraid that the homeless squatters would kill and eat them.
Download our Central Park Walking Tour and learn all of the hidden history of this beautiful park. The walk itself is beautiful. But we tell the stories like never before: with audio narration, hundreds of photos, video clips, trivia quizzes, and local recommendations. We’ll introduce the millionaires and beauty queens, the writers and artists, the sculptures and memorials. Our New York Walking Tours put you on the spot so that you can walk into the history. It’s fully interactive and fully fun, and you can share all of our photos and stories on Facebook and Twitter. Go ahead. Get walking. Download Racontrs now to your Iphone or Android.