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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.