central park, new york city.
All images pertaining to this writing would be included below.
In the photo to the left is the beautiful Conservatory Garden of Central park in New York City. The garden is the only formal garden of the park and is made up of a stretch of six acres of land. With its perfect scenery of trees, shrubs and a water fountain, the garden distinguishes itself from the rather noisy and up-tempo nature of Central park. The garden is divided into three different sections of style: French, Italian and English. The French section boasts of eye-catching seasonal exhibits of tulips in the spring and Korean chrysanthemums in the Autumn. The Italian section features a large lawn and 12-foot jet fountain that leads to the wisteria pergola, which is filled with crabapple trees that burst in purple bloom. The English section takes up the southern section of the garden. It is bordered by trees and shrubs and has a beautifully sculptured fountain at its center. The garden provides a calmer atmosphere for visitors to stroll through the beauty of nature and is literally the perfect environment for weddings and other formal ceremonies.
Throughout the 1800’s New Yorkers felt a demeaning sentiment from the Europeans that took a shot at the American’s lack of community building and social bonding. This negative perception on New Yorkers became a source of inspiration and sprung a seed that visualized a terrain that people can come together to enjoy a sense of belonging and participate in recreational activities. In 1858 the creation and design of Central Park begun under the planning and overseeing of Frederick Law Olmsted, the park superintendent, and Calvert Vaux, an architect, both of whom won a design park contest for the project. 850 acres of land was obtained and this land spread around all across the center of Manhattan.
Before this park existed, the land was occupied by small farms, industries, and settlements. The most populated settlement of the land was what was known as Seneca village. Seneca village was a community made up of mostly African Americans who escaped slavery and had become landowners. About 225 people occupied this community and had to be displaced of their properties in return for financial payback, which back in the day was not considered equivalent in worth by most of the landowners. Most of the landowners put up a fight to keep their lands and establishments from this project but they were fighting a bigger battle with the law than they could. The law prevailed and demanded inhabitants evacuate their properties after the funding of the financial settlement went through. As of now descendants of the landowners are being sought after through certain state programs to offer possible compensation.
Central park stands out with its uniqueness in plant and animal species. The park boasts of about 18000 trees and are sorted into different sections within the park. The seasonal changes reveal the photogenic nature of these trees and during the fall different shades of red, orange, and yellow luminate and accentuate the beauty of the park. Below is a photo of The Mall, a section of the woodlands of the park which is located mid-park at 66th street. The Mall is made up of a pedestrian path in the middle, which is the only straight-line path in the park, and has to its sides quadruple rows of American Elms. Throughout North America, the Mall is one of the remaining and largest habitats of this species of trees.
The beauty of Central Park can go unnoticed if a glance at the exquisite Belvedere castle (image below) is not taken. The Belvedere Castle is one of the main attractions of the park and was part of the design plan architected by Mr. Calvert. The castle is a folly and is there mainly for ornamental purposes. Located mid-park at 79th street, the castle sits on top of vista rock, the park’s second highest elevation at 130 feet. The designers of this folly envisioned for the structure to be built with granite and schist rocks with a tower and conical cap. The belvedere provides some amazing views of the Great Lawn on the North side and the Ramble on the southside.
Ecologically, Central Park plays a huge role in the wellbeing of New York’s ecosystem. The trees of the park amongst the other many species provide some amazing benefits that might be overlooked but are real blessing to New Yorkers. The park’s many thousands of trees help filter out the air New Yorkers breathe. Every year, about 48 pounds of Carbon dioxide is absorbed per tree and in return, Oxygen is produced. Other toxins in the soil and the air are trapped by the trees and thus preservation is ensured.
Also, the parks management has devised an efficient method in dealing with the tons of leaves that get shredded every year. About 3000 cubic yards of leaves that shed each year and 5000 cubic yards of tree waste end up in a recycling waste facility known as the Mount. The leaves are recycled into compost that are used as fertilizers for the trees. Other tree waste such as wood chips are used to construct flower beds and as additional material for mulch. The park in collaboration with New York City Parks has found a way to involve its New Yorkers in contribution to the sustainability of the park amongst others by the creation of Mulch Fest. The festival which occurs between the 26th of December and January 11 allows people to drop off their Christmas trees after the holiday season to be recycled. Last year, 26,000 trees were recycled and turned into mulch that is used to sustain the soils and trees of the various parks in the city of New York.
Other conservation projects that have taken place to restore and conserve the park. One of them is the project that went on in the Halle Nature Sanctuary, the smallest of the woodland landscapes. The Halle Sanctuary was declared a bird sanctuary in 1934 by the NYC commissioner at the time and shut down to the public. Due to lack of proper management and conservation of the Sanctuary, the ecosystem was invaded by a ton of invasive species such as Japanese Knotgrasses, black cherries, wisteria, and Norway Maples. It had gotten to the point where it no longer became a healthy ecosystem for its native species.
As a result of this dysfunctionality, stringent measures had to be taken and the Halle Nature Sanctuary stayed closed to the public for 84 years. However, the Conservancy, which manages the park, started working on restoring the Sanctuary in 2001. The purpose of this was to raise the ecological worth of the habitat as a home for wildlife and also improve its value as a landscape to the park as a whole. Invasive plants were removed, and a variety of native plants and shrubs were introduced. Benches were put in place to allow visitors a resting spot while they enjoy the beautiful views of the place. These were some of the main changes that took place and brought the Sanctuary back to life. In 2013 the sanctuary was opened to guided tours, and in 2016 access was granted to the mass public.
Another project that has taken place is the boat landings at the park’s lake. The lake is the second largest water body in the park occupying a stretch of 20 acres of land. The boat landings were constructed from time to time throughout the past century. However, due to a lack of proper management they all became worthless. In the mid 1900’s efforts were made to return them to a purposeful state and four boat landings were built. These four landings had reached their lifespan and had to be replaced. As such, the park’s management built new boat landings to replace the old in 2016.
Restoration of the park can be seen in the management's efforts to restore the playgrounds. Central park boasts of a total of 21 playgrounds. This project commenced off with a complete turn around of the first playground constructed on the park. The first playground which is North West off the entrance at 67th street was built in 1930 and redesigned in 1960 to give it more of an adventure feel. The playground was renovated in 1997 and safety measures were put in place to address the concerns of its users. However, in 2015 an upgraded design plan was initiated. The original design plan was kept but new elements were added to accentuate the adventure feel of the playground. The playground possesses a climber with tunnels, new and safer carpeting, a circular water spray feature, sand play areas and a fortress. The new project aims to repair and replace worn-out pieces of the playground. Also new plantings were added to the surrounding area as well as creating to and from routes throughout the playground. Children’s safety is a concern and thus barriers were removed, and steep slopes were regraded.
Central Park provides a recreational space for residents nearby and far away to conduct physical activity. Half a million to about two million people live within considerable distance from the park approximately ranging 10 to 30 minutes by way of the Subway and bus systems. This proximity of residents to the park is very crucial and enables easy access. A daily coast through the park involves spotting a ton of recreational activity from runners, cyclists, power walkers, and skateboarders. Many parts of the park have been developed to include basketball courts, football fields, handball courts, ice skating rinks, playgrounds, tennis fields and many other avenues for people to physically stay in shape.
Outsiders usually make jokes on New York City that you rarely find tame and domesticated animals due to the City’s urbanization and infrastructural development. The structural and ecological role Central Park plays puts all the naysayers to sleep. Central park provides a refuge for a variety of animals, both wild and tamed. Visitors of the park would consistently find ducks, turtles, fish, chipmunks, and squirrels residing in the park. Also, over 200 species of birds are known to frequent the parks waterbodies and landscape every year for their wellbeing and sustainability.
Summer is here and one thing everyone is certain of is we are in the middle of a global pandemic. COVID-19 numbers have hit the roof and in just a week or two, public activity and appearance begins to lessen by the hour. Fitz and his close friends figure out a way to net out the boredom that everyone has to deal with and almost every day after a hard day of work, him and his friends meet up either at his place or one of the crew’s. The hangout ends up with slices of pizza in everyone’s hands with some fine wine to top it off. It became a tradition that went on for the month and upon realizing how out of shape he was, Fitz made a choice to get out the slump and stay active. Gyms around town were all shut down and thus his gym membership was of no value.
Fortunately for him, the closest park to his apartment was Central park, which was 10 minutes away. Fitz got himself some new athletic gear and decided to run every morning for at least two miles in the park. He felt like sore the first couple days running however, he continuously improved day by day and was able to do a whole loop around the park in a month. Meeting runners in the park on a daily helped to make light the sacrifice and pain endured through running scary miles. Fitz friends took notice of his improvement and encouraged him to try and run the marathon that is run through part of Central Park and extensively throughout New York and has been approved by the marathon council to participate in next year’s marathon. Fitz never would have imagined that what started out as jogging is elevating him to new feats of his life. It is amazing how the presence of the park made it possible for a resident of the city to find a new meaning and purpose to his life.