New York City's Central Park

Overview

New York City's Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with more than 25 million visitors each year. Designed in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park was intended to provide New Yorkers with a serene and scenic "rural" refuge from the noise and bustle of city life. Yet transforming the rocky, swampy park site into rolling meadows, lush woodlands, and pristine lakes proved an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive endeavor. Thousands of workers drained ...
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Overview

New York City's Central Park is the most visited urban park in the United States, with more than 25 million visitors each year. Designed in 1857 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Central Park was intended to provide New Yorkers with a serene and scenic "rural" refuge from the noise and bustle of city life. Yet transforming the rocky, swampy park site into rolling meadows, lush woodlands, and pristine lakes proved an extremely time-consuming and labor-intensive endeavor. Thousands of workers drained marshes, blasted away boulders, and planted a quarter of a billion trees, flowers, and shrubs to create this 843-acre oasis in the heart of Manhattan. Central Park changed the lifestyle of the city and has served as a model for urban parks across the country.
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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
The introduction tells readers that more than 25 million visitors a year come to New York City's Central park, which makes it the most visited urban park in the United States. Slavicek describes how the park came about, including discussion of the competing interests of the aristocrats in the city and the poor, both of whom wanted a place to go and get away from the crowds, smells, and noise of the city that was around them. Interestingly, the current location is not the place where the park was originally proposed, but thanks to the efforts of Calvert Vaux, a trained architect, and his partner Frederick Law Olmstead, who both believed that the park should be aesthetic as well as practical, we have the Great park that now exists. It was not easy—the land was not suited for a park, and it took Olmestead, who managed the workforce, and Vaux, with the vision, almost twenty years to implement their plan and build Central Park. Slavicek details the messy job of draining the swamps, breaking up the rocks, hauling in dirt from New Jersey and Long Island, and planting millions of trees, shrubs, and flowers. One of the first sections opened was the pond, where New Yorkers came out and skated. It was not until 1926, however, that the first playground was introduced, and after that, many other playing fields and playgrounds were constructed. Eventually, the park fell into disrepair when economic hard times hit the city. The Central Park Conservancy was established, and it has been responsible for renovating and keeping the park in the excellent shape it is today. Just a little over one hundred years after construction began, Central Park was declared a National Historic Landmark. The textcloses with a shot of people enjoying the park. Interspersed are shaded sections that offer additional information related to the project. The text would be better served by clearer, higher quality pictures. The backmatter includes a chronology, glossary, bibliography, further resources, and an index. This book is part of the "Building America Then and Now" series. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot
School Library Journal

Gr 6-9

These books feature a number of large construction projects that have contributed to forming the American landscape. Somewhat New York-centric, with four of the eight titles focusing on that city's infrastructure, the series provides a picture of late-19th- and early-20th-century developments. Brooklyn Bridge , Empire State Building , and Central Park discuss the large-scale accomplishments of the creators of those monumental and trend-setting works, while Telephone , Interstate , and Subway System focus on transportation and telecommunications systems that have had a huge impact on life today. Each book features tangential discussions of related issues, such as the treatment of African-American soldiers during the construction of the Alaska Highway, and includes short sidebars about similar, modern-day projects. A long first chapter in Hoover Dam provides a meandering history of dams and introduces terms in the main text before they are defined. Empire State Building has many clever vignettes that are related, but only barely; a story about the "Mohawk Sky Boys" offers a little diversity, but never comes into play again in the main narrative. Brooklyn Bridge , on the other hand, offers a long history of the settlement of New York City, but because much of the discussion relates to the need for the bridge, the lengthy explanation never feels off topic. The other titles are tightly focused, offering a detailed picture of the construction of the projects by concentrating on the people who were involved.

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction A "Natural" Retreat in the Heart of Manhattan 7

Chapter 1 "Give Us a Park" 11

Chapter 2 Central Park It Is 24

Chapter 3 The Greensward Plan 36

Chapter 4 Clearing, Draining, and Dredging 50

Chapter 5 Filling, Blasting, and Planting 64

Chapter 6 Central Park's Unique Architecture 78

Chapter 7 A Work in Progress: Central Park Since 1877 93

Chronology and Timeline 108

Glossary 111

Bibliography 113

Further Resources 115

Picture Credits 116

Index 117

About the Author 120

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