17 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Central Park (Because We Know We Didn’t)
Dear readers, we’ve been telling you about different attractions in Central Park for about a month now, and I have to say, I think it’s been going pretty well.From pools to proposals and movies to monuments, the CPS team lives to give you your daily dose of Central Park goodness. Due to all of our research (which, lucky for us, involves a lot of quality time just hanging around in the Park) we’ve learned quite a bit about New York City’s greatest playground. One of the main things I’ve personally learned is that I didn’t really know anything about the park before my time at Central Park Sightseeing began.
I decided to take some time to talk with my coworkers to see what their favorite/need to know tidbits regarding Central Park are, and the answers ranged from informational to insane. Here are some of my favorite answers!
- The park was actually designed via a public contest! In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux beat out 32 competitors for the right to design Central Park.
- The design contest was incredibly specific. It had to include a parade ground, a principal fountain, a lookout tower, a skating arena, four cross streets, and a place for an exhibition or a concert hall, all of which were included in the duo’
- Central Park was the first public landscaped park in all of the United States.
- The park spans 843 acres. For you New Yorkers, that is basically 16 billion apartments.
- The Park is larger than the principality of Monaco.
- It is also six times larger than Vatican City. That’s TWO countries that are smaller than the park!
- The roads in Central Park were incredibly difficult to create. In order to get through the 30+ feet of bedrock, landscapers used ample amounts of gunpowder to literally blast the roads into existence. More gunpowder was used to create the 4 major roads in Central Park than was used during the entire Battle of Gettysburg.
- One of the smallest species of centipedes was discovered right in Central Park.The critter, officially called Nannarrup hoffmani, is less than an inch long.
- Over 230 different species of birds have been spotted over the years in Central Park, making it one of the US’s premier birdwatching locations
- You can adopt a bench in the park- you’ll just have to pay $7,500 first! These endowed benches are guaranteed to remain in the park forever, and the park makes about 1 million dollars a year on this offer.
- Central Park costs about 58.3 million dollars per year to remain as stunning as it is. The New York government only provides about 25% of those funds, leaving the Central Park Conservancy to raise the remaining $43,725,000.
- There are actually secret codes on each Central Park lamppost designed to help visitors know where they are located. The codes are four digits, with the first two representing the street they are on, and the second pair designed to indicate whether they are located on the East or West side (even numbers for eats, odd numbers for west.) So a code reading 8353 would appear on a lamppost on West 83rd Street! (I honestly wish I had known about this one earlier, it would have saved me a lot of aimless wandering time)
- A real life alligator was once discovered in the waters of Central Park. A professional gator wrestler was flown up from Florida, and it was assumed that someone literally smuggled the creature into the park and set it free.
- The 2.5 million yards of rock and dirt used to create the landscape of the park is enough to create an 80 story football field!
- Until 1934, Sheep Meadow actually housed sheep! She wooly animals would graze in the meadow all day, and return to their home, the now iconic Tavern on the Green!
- Hidden in the park is a secret Christmas Tree! Folks head there every winter to decorate the tree with photos and mementos of their beloved pets who have passed away. It is honestly, adorable, and one of the parks sweetest traditions.
- It cost New York State 7.4 million dollars to purchase the land of Central Park. For comparison, the US paid 7.2 million to acquire Alaska from Russia. Basically, Alaska was a bargain.