There is no doubt that the majority of the world knows about New York City’s legendary Central Park. From being the set location for several Hollywood films, and being featured in classic literature, “The Park” has welcomed hundreds of millions of people since its grand opening in 1857 (making it 161 years old this year).
The park is 843 acres. To give you an idea: one acre is roughly the size of an American football field; knowing how to travel in Central Park is essential. Central Park Pedicab Tours is one way of getting around safely, and there are many other tour groups you can take throughout the Park. If you have a few minutes, I’d like to share a few Central Park secrets with you that you may not have known about.
All the way back in 1853, the New York State legislature planned to use 750 acres of land to create “America’s first public landscaped park” at 843 acres total. The reason why? To increase the property values of pre-existing land properties near the park. This shows that the creators behind one of America’s most beautiful parks revolve around real estate and bolstering bottom dollar profits. In a way, Central Park’s true origin story can be considered a reminder of our entrepreneurial spirit.
2. The Casino’s Backstory
“The Casino”—a building on the East Side of Fifth and 72nd street—is well known. What is less well-known is that the building was once a “Ladies’ Refreshment Salon”. In the 19th century, women gathered here to socialize without being considered a prostitute; society considered a lone-traveling woman to be a prostitute. Half a century later, NYC’s mayor Jimmy Walker transformed it into “The Casino”: a hotspot full of drinks aplenty, great tunes, and rocking entertainment that directly flew in the face of the Prohibition.
3. Historic Trees
Shortly after Central Park was constructed, city officials planted more than a quarter of a million shrubs and trees (while preserving already-flourishing trees that had been growing in the area prior to construction). Sadly, only a few hundred trees remain. Of them, Yoshino Cherry trees—which live on the east side of the Reservoir—which is one of the first to blossom every spring, were gifts from Japan in 1912.
Each of the five waterfalls in Central Park is man-made. If that isn’t completely mind-blowing, what might be equally shocking is the fact that these waterfalls provide New York City’s drinking water. The Pool Grotto’s boulders (on 100th street) hide the 48-inch water pipe that controls the city’s water supply.
5. Stolen Land
Remember how New York State legislature approved the plan to use 750 acres to create a park in 1853? Unfortunately, that land belonged to African-American residents who resided in Seneca Village since 1825. This was a middle-class “town” that housed over 260 residents, who enjoyed attending several churches and attending a fully-functional school. In 1853, the powers that be used “eminent domain” to evict residents from their own land.
Central Park – Conclusion
Doing a little digging will reveal more juicy secrets much of the public hasn’t known. Such as purchasing 843 acres that cost $7.4 million. Which is $2 million more than the United States paid to buy Alaska from Russia in 1867. There are a whole host of interesting secrets waiting to be uncovered by you.