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Central Park
Central Park
#About New York's Biggest Park

You have arrived at one of the most well-known and pleasant places in New York - Central Park.

Central Park was established in 1857, on land that was used for herding sheep, and also partly a poor neighborhood. Walking through the park is an attraction in itself, though the most magical spots can be found between the narrow pathways, between trees and bushes. You can also see nice musical performances here, take part of fun activities, both for children and adults, look towards the view from different viewpoints in the park, that overlooks the lake and the architecture of the amazing New York skyline.

Visitors to Central Park are not necessarily tourists. New Yorkers take advantage of the wide spaces for sports, for laying out on the grassy lawns, to tan or read under the open sky. With that, it shouldn't be difficult to find a quiet corner for you and a partner, and even for a nice picnic. Near the park, you will find many delis where you can buy all the ingredients you need for the meal. You can rent bikes and ride along the park, or rent a boat and row in the lake.

On pleasant spring and summer days many locals and tourists tend to arrive in Central Park to watch the shows, festivals, and different concerts performed for the public, and some of these shows are also free.

This huge park is easy to get lost in. In an area that is 4 kilometers long and 800 meters wide, you can see over 25,000 trees and 1,500 types of plants and animals.


#History of Central Park
It is not by accident that Central Park is so important in New York culture. Central Park was the first designed park in the United States, and was so because of the need to build a big public park. In order to execute this plan, New York's government conducted a competition for the design of the park, and the plan that was chosen was by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Three years later the park opened.

One of the innovations in the park was a different transportation system for each purpose: sidewalks for pedestrians, special pathways for horses, and streets for carriages and vehicles, that back then did not exist. What is special about these streets that go up and down the park, is that they are embedded in the park and integrate well between the dense vegetation. It hides them from the pedestrians and maintains the nice aesthetics of the park. This is how it happened that the park has 36 bridges, each with its own style and character.

At the beginning of the 20th century the park was neglected and abandoned. From the 1960's it was considered a place of crime and criminals. Many of the residents avoided going near it. This is why the mayor La Guardia decided to rehabilitate it, and restore its image.

In 1980 a special foundation was established whose purpose was to maintain Central Park. It began with the renovation and maintenance of the park, and in 2003 the park celebrated 150 years to the park's establishment.

An especially interesting point has to do with the changing weather. The tough winter months has been endured by the park as well. In the past the lake had frozen completely during winter. Though as the years went, and construction grew around the park, the lake began freezing less and less, and today it is a rare event if the park lake freezes at all.


#The Building of Central Park
More than 80 years of building have made the park what you see in front of you today. The story of the building began in the 1840's, when several important people, including architect Andrew Downing, the author Washington Irving, and the Editor of the New York Evening Post William Bryant convinced the city municipality to buy the land, without a clear understanding what the land would be used for.

Back then the land was full of mud, and unevenly covered with trees and bushes, poor shepherds were living around the grounds in wooden shacks, with pigs and goats wandering around the rocks.

The building began in 1857 and involved 3,000 construction workers and 400 horses. They prepared the ground, cleared the ground and made it construction ready. The soil was brought straight from New Jersey, and more than 4 million trees were sent from around the world. Most of the rocks that were here previously, stayed in their place.

The building provided jobs to many of the poor residents in the area that suffered from an economic crisis, and in 1876 the park was opened to visitors officially.


#Disputes over Central Park
Central Park was the source of many disputes over the years. Each wanted the ground to be used for something else. The architect Olmsted wanted to turn the park into a place where visitors arrived to enjoy the landscape. He wanted to limit them to a passive experience and enjoyment that would allow limited use of the land. The public, though, felt that this was a perfect place for sporting activities, and the public won apparently, since over the years playgrounds were opened, a zoo, and a rocky area that is climbed by children.

However, the disputes over the area were not over. In 1899 great pressure was put on the municipality, until it finally allowed the use of cars in the park. A few decades later, the residents of Fifth Avenue also succeeded in getting the trees trimmed, that blocked their view from their expensive apartment terraces.


#The Dark Past of Central Park
Crime, drugs and violence were an inseparable part of the atmosphere, especially in the 1960's and 1970's, Central Park turned into a symbol of desperation, and a place to stay away from.

It was so intimidating, that tour guides warned visitors from walking around the park at night. What did not help the image, were the killings and murders that became the history of New York, and happened in the park itself.

One of the most well-known cases was the murder of Michael O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan was a kindly homeless person who used to spend his time around the park, especially around high school students who came to consume alcohol and drugs. The homeless man was murdered by two young 15-year-old boys.

Another terrible murder happened on the evening of July 16th, right on the same day that John Kennedy Junior's plane crashed, the son of the famous late President Kennedy. Around the park screams were heard of someone young. The young lady, whose cries were not enough to grab attention, was brutally murdered, even though this happened in one of the more populated areas of the park.

Across the street in front of the Dakota building, John Lennon, the leader of the Beatles, was murdered. In his memory a monument was placed for him with the writing 'imagine.' See more by clicking on the tag "Monuments".


#The Statues of Central Park
If you walk around the park you will notice the variety of statues that populate it. The statues are definitely worth your attention, and the most well-known of the group is probably the bronze statue that describes the story of Alice in Wonderland. It is located on the Eastern side of the lake.

On the West side of the lake you will be able to find the statue of Hans Christian Andersen, by Georg Lober. In the Bethesda Fountain you can see statues by Emma Stebbins. Near the Metropolitan Museum you can see the obelisk Cleopatra's Needle, 3,500 years old.

At the edge of the avenue "The Mall," with the pretty elm trees, you can see statues of Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus and Walter Scott.


#tips
In the winter there is a wide ice skating rink here.


A Closer Look at the Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wjn8QcZzmQA
Strawberry Fields
Strawberry Fields
#The Monument for John Lennon

In Central Park, you will find the monument dedicated to the memory of one of the most talented musicians the world has ever known. John Lennon, who led the Beatles. This famous monument is named after his song " Strawberry Fields Forever," which he wrote with his partner Paul McCartney.

The entrance is located across from the Dakota Building, where Lennon lived during his last years. At the entrance to his house, he was murdered in 1980 by a crazy fan.

At the corner, a memorial was put up by Lennon's widow, Yoko. A triangular piece of land, both sides pointing to both sides of the park. At the top, you will find the mosaic floor with the word "Imagine" in the center, like Lennon's great song, in which, ironically, he suggested imagining a world without wars and violence.

Around the monument, you can sit on benches put here, for giving visitors a moment of peace and thought about the hero to so many music fans. Yoko Ono donated over one million dollars for the design of the monument, and its maintenance and some see her car stop by nearby.

On the anniversary of the murder of Lennon, a crowd gathers of supporters and fans, and the artist's memory is kept. They stay in the "Strawberry Field" until the small hours of the night, and pay their respects. On these days you will find flowers, candles, and objects that visitors leave behind.


#Tips

Try getting here on the anniversary of the death of Lennon, for the ceremony that takes places at the entrance to Central Park, a few hundred yards from the Dakota House in Manhattan, where Lennon and Yoko lives, and where he was murdered at age 40.


A Closer Look at the Monument:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQ8NIuQT5uQ
Central Park Zoo
Central Park Zoo
#About the Central Park Zoo

The Central Park Zoo was established in 1860, and was the first zoo in the city. Two to three hours is all you need for a visit here, and is especially recommended for children, but anyone will enjoy their time here.

The zoo is located on the southeast corner of Central Park, and is a great place for families. It is built between the trees and walkways of the park, and gives a change to see animals, and be a part of different attractions. Among the animals you will see really rare and special animals, those who are not usually found in zoos.

The walls and buildings of the zoo are all built of black stone. At the center of the zoo is a sea lion pool, you can go and feel the warm and tropic climate, feed animals, and enter the "penguin house." At the zoo you can see all kinds of animals, like polar bears, sea lions, monkeys, tigers, frogs and toads.



#Tips

Try to make sure your visit is aligned with the zoo feeding times, which will make your experience all the most fascinating.



A Closer Look at the Zoo:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lsZ_RtPAKLU
Delacorte Theater
Delacorte Theater
#About the Free Theater in Central Park

At the center of Central Park in Manhattan, under the open sky and fresh air, you will find the Delacorte Theater. This is a public theater, open and free, that performs different shows in the park. This tradition is widely known in New York, and has been going on for 50 years.

In the summer months thousands of locals and visitors come here to see a variety of Shakespeare's plays. Since it was opened in 1962 until today, a million people have seen the performances here, more than 150 Shakespeare plays, classical shows, and musicals.

The theater is named after Valerie and George T. Delacorte, who donated the funds for the establishment of the theater. Back then, the well-known theater producer, Joseph Pap, showed a few Shakespeare plays to his class. He believed that the theater experience is relevant to everyone, and it needs to be free and available. After he proved that there was a large audience for meaningful shows, it was proven that a theater should be built in Central Park, and that the idea was worth the investment. He began raising money and created one of the most popular traditions in the city.

The first play showed here was Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice, in 1962.

Tickets to the plays in the theater are free, but are only released that same day of the show. They are given out starting at 12:00 pm, with a limit of 2 tickets per person. Usually you will see a long line of people who come to the park at around 6:00 am, to try and get the tickets. We think this is worth every minute, to try and be a part of this long-standing tradition.


A Closer Look at the Theater:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOmBqDApurA

Central Park

The Mall
The Mall
#About the Mall Boulevard in Central Park

One of the most beautiful walkways in Central Park is The Mall. The boulevard is full of Elm trees. When they were planted, these trees were very popular. The ones you see today are only those remaining, after many died from an Elm tree disease, and have become quite rare. The boulevard leads to the Bethesda Fountain.

The boulevard was planned especially to fit the light rail that used to pass here. In the early 20th century, from the light rail the rich residents of New York would get off. Here they could enjoy the natural beauty, and could mingle with other people of different social ladders. When they would arrive at the fountain however, they would get on the light rail again and continue on their way.

Today you will find in the area many skaters and walkers. At the edge of the boulevard you can see statues of Shakespeare, Christopher Columbus, and Sir Walter Scott.


A Closer Look at the Boulevard:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJtu7FmnLQk
Belvedere Castle
Belvedere Castle
#About the Castle

If you are walking around Central Park and looking for places to see in this large park, the Belvedere Castle is located at the center of the park and is worth a visit. The castle has an impressive facade as if it was taken from a fairytale. It is located on a large rocky area in Central Park called Vista Rock. The name of the castle means "beautiful view" in Italian, and just like the name, it is exactly what can be seen from there - at the exact location of the castle and thanks to the castle's balconies, you can overlook beautiful panoramic views that will spread out in front of you.

The castle, which is the tallest building in the park, was planned by architects Calvert Vaux and Jacob Wrey Mould, together with Frederick Law Olmsted, and headed to plan the park in 1865. It is interesting that there was no particular reason for its establishment, it was just built...

The structure of the Belvedere Castle is built from the rocks of Manhattan, which were carved during the construction of Central Park and coated with gray granite stone. In order to save on construction costs, two decorated wooden pavilions were built near it, but in 1900 the wooden pavilions were demolished for their abandoned standing.

At the head of the castle tower, you can see an anemometer and a weather lamp, used by the forecasting station located in the castle. Since 1919 the castle has served as an observation post in the service of forecasting the weather of New York. Today, only an automatic measurement station is located in the castle. Weather forecasting service offices themselves had already moved to the Rockefeller Center in the 1960's.
When the castle closed its doors to the public, it suffered from vandalism and a lot of damage was done to it. This is how it stood until 1983, when the building was renovated and the wooden entrance renewed, according to the original plans.

Belvedere Castle is not only used as a lookout. It is also a visitor's center and information center, and a place where historical artifacts are displayed, and rental of equipment for nature exploration, equipment that enables self-exploration of the park, using microscopes and telescopes in place.

Characteristics that stand out you can see in the castle are the strong stone facade, the large turret, and the flag. From time to time events go on here of all different themes, like bird-watching activities, lectures on astronomy, book readings, and more.



A Closer Look from Within the Castle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFCrRAv06lA


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