Fun facts about Central Park in New York City

32 Interesting Facts About Central Park In NYC

Today, we’re going to look at some unique and intriguing facts that make Central Park so interesting.

With its vast green expanse and diverse landscape, Central Park is an integral part of New York City’s identity, drawing millions of visitors every year, and offering a much-needed escape from the urban hustle. 

1. Central Park has been around for 150 years. It was designed by landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux in 1858. Their vision was to create a park that would provide respite from the rapid urbanization of New York City.

2. It took more than 16 years to complete Central Park. Construction required more than 20,000 laborers.

A stone arched bridge and lots of fall foliage in Central Park
One of several bridges in Central Park

3. The original budget to create the park was set at $5 million. However, by the time the park was completed more than $15 million had been spent. To put that into context, that’s approximately $450 million in today’s money – less than a third of what it cost to build Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building.

4. The park can be found between the Upper East Side and Upper West Side neighborhoods of Manhattan. Upon construction, Central Park became the first landscaped public park in the United States.

5. For the park to be built, its mostly African American residents were evicted and their village was razed. Before Central Park was constructed, the land it sits on was the site of Seneca Village. This was a 19th-century settlement that consisted mostly of African American landowners. 

6. Central Park is the fifth-largest park in New York City. It spans a total area of 843 acres, making it 1,922 acres smaller than Pelham Bay Park – the largest park in New York City. 

7. At 2.5 miles long and 0.5 miles wide, Central Park is surprisingly larger than some countries. Such dimensions make Central Park bigger than Monaco and Vatican City.

A tall twin tower skyscraper looks over the pond in Central Park
El Dorado twin towers look over Central Park

8. The park’s highest natural point is Summit Rock, which rises 42 meters (140 feet) above sea level. That might not sound like a lot, but it makes the rock nearly half the height of the Statue of Liberty’s entire structure.

9. There’s a huge water reservoir in Central Park. Once a crucial part of the city’s water supply system, the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir covers over 100 acres of parkland and holds more than 1 billion gallons of water. The Ashokan Reservoir, also in New York, covers more than 8,300 acres and holds up to 122.9 billion gallons of water.

10. There are several other artificial bodies of water. These include The Lake and The Pond, which were designed to mimic natural formations. The Lake is the biggest body of water in the park, excluding the reservoir, spanning more than 20 acres. 

11. The lakes in Central Park regularly freeze in winter. In the 1940’s the ice would normally be thick enough to ice skate. Unfortunately, the weather rarely stays cold long enough for the ice to freeze thick enough anymore.

12. There are 42 bridges and arches in Central Park. This includes 30 decorative arches and 13 bridges. The most famous bridges in the park are Bow Bridge and Gapstow Bridge.

Many people ice skating on a frozen lake in Central Park
Ice skating on Central Park’s lake

13. One of the largest open spaces in the park can be found right in the center. The aptly named Great Lawn spans 55 acres. It was once a reservoir but the area was filled in the 1930s with the materials from the Rockefeller Center.

14. In 2023, the skies above Central Park turned orange. Smoke from Canadian wildfires covered the park, creating the worst air quality since records began.

15. Central Park serves as a habitat for numerous species of birds, mammals, and insects. Over 270 bird species have been observed in the park. These include the red-tailed hawk, blue jay, Northern flicker, and Northern Cardinal.

16. The six-acre Conservatory Garden, located at the northeast corner, features three distinct formal gardens with beautiful seasonal flower displays. Well-known plants found in the conservatory include lilacs, tulips, crabapple trees, and chrysanthemums.

17. The park is home to over 18,000 trees. The tallest tree in Central Park is 40 meters tall (133 feet) and has a girth of 5.6 meters (18.6 feet).

Some trees and grassy hill with buildings behind in Central Park
Conservatory Gaden

18. Central Park was once home to a flock of sheep. This part of the park is called Sheep Meadow and sheep grazed there freely until the 1930s. Today, it is a vast lawn used by tourists.

19. The park is home to a small zoo, Central Park Zoo. Opened in the 1860s, the zoo is currently home to more than 1,400 animals from 163 different species. Since its doors opened, Central Park Zoo has welcomed more than 400 million visitors.

20. In 2023, an eagle owl named Flaco escaped Central Park Zoo. Flaco has since been seen sitting in trees around the park but up to now has managed to elude rescue attempts.

21. Central Park is the most visited park in America and the second most popular attraction in New York City and State, after Times Square. An estimated 40+ million people visit the park every year. In 2022, more than 42 million people visited Central Park (that’s more than the entire population of Canada!)

22. Almost 10% of people who visit Central Park are international tourists. Free admission is a big draw to the park. Most tourists enjoy wandering around the park, riding the classic carousel, riding horse-drawn carriages, and taking part in guided tours.

A large lawn full of people sitting and relaxing in Central Park
Crowds in Central Park

23. Central Park is so huge that it has a navigation app. Tourists can choose from 40 celebrity voices and be led around the park by their idols. There’s even a map app that helps visitors find the local cherry blossom trees

24. A popular tourist attraction in Central Park is Strawberry Fields. This is a 2.5-acre landscaped part of the park designed as a tribute to John Lennon. The area features the “Imagine” mosaic and serves as a reflective space for fans and admirers.

25. Some people call the Central Park home. While the park’s officials have made it clear that the park has no permanent residents, a U.S. census found that 25 people claim Central Park as their home.

26. Some of NYC’s most expensive homes are next to the park. The street is called Billionaire’s Row. Some of these luxury “apartments” cost more than $200 million (if you can even call them that!)

27. Central Park often hosts musical concerts and festivals. In 1997, country pop singer Garth Brooks performed at Central Park for free. It became the largest concert the park has ever held with an estimated audience of 1,000,000.

A round, gray mosaic on the ground that says "Imagine" and has flowers arranged in a peace sign on it
Strawberry Fields

28. Over the years, Central Park has seen its fair share of stunts and crazy feats. In 2008, illusionist David Blane hung upside down 13.4 meters (44 feet) above Wollman Rink for 60 hours with no safety net. 

29. In 2022, Oz Pearlman broke records by running 19 loops of Central Park in one day. The total distance he ran was 116 miles. 

30. Many celebrities, politicians, actresses, actors, musicians, and sports stars have visited Central Park. Some of the most famous include Michael Jackson, Elton John, Princess Diana, the Dalai Lama, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Marilyn Monroe.

31. Central Park is the most filmed location in the world. The park has been featured in more than 500 movies. These include “When Harry Met Sally” (1989), “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York” (1992), “Elf” (2003), and “Spider-Man 3” (2007).

32. As you would expect, Central Park has also appeared in a wide range of television shows. These include “Friends“, “Gossip Girl”, “Sex and the City”, and “Mr. Robot”.

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