The Central Park Conservancy: A Model for Park Conservation around the Country

By: Dylan Rodgers

Just taking a walk through Central Park can be an awe inspiring experience.  It is a beautifully designed and kept landscape catering to all interests including art, history, sports, botany, picnicking, R&R, music, etc.  This massive park smack dab in the center of Manhattan provides a wonderful sanctuary for anyone interested in 'escaping' the city for a while.  It is home to tons of animals and plants acting as a single, living organism spanning from Midtown Manhattan well into Harlem.  To keep this amazing park going, a private, non-profit organization named the Central Park Conservancy works year-round landscaping, cleaning, pruning, you name it.

The Central Park Conservancy was determined to turn Central Park's rapid decline in the 1970s around by restoring it to its former grandeur as envisioned by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the park's 19th century designers.  The group was founded in 1980 and has since been responsible for the daily maintenance and operation of the park.  Amazingly, 85% of Central Park's annual budget of $37.4 million comes from fundraising and investment revenue.  The Conservancy crews manage 250 acres of lawns, 24,000 trees, 150 acres of lakes and streams, and 130 acres of woodlands; they maintain 9,000 benches, 26 ball fields, 21 playgrounds, 55 sculptures/monuments, and 36 bridges; they also provide parks around the country with priceless technical advice.

The Central Park Conservancy has been integral in preserving and modernizing one of the greatest urban spaces in the nation.  With the support of the city and its inhabitants, Central Park will continue to develop and thrive as New York's favorite outdoor space for future generations.

Visit the Central Park Conservancy's website to learn how you can play a role in the preservation of Central Park.

Photo: Ed Yourdon