Sheep Meadow in Central Park, open from May to mid-October, often admits up to 30,000 people per day during the summer months. This expansive 15-acre field that is today used for sunbathing, kite flying, and relaxing summer picnics is known for its long and tumultuous history.
Sheep Meadow has been home to various demonstrations, concerts, and political movements over the last century. Upon its creation, the Meadow's purpose was to serve as a parade ground for military drills, as this was one of the rules of the design contest. Though this idea contrasted with contest winners Olmsted and Vaux's vision of the Park as a peaceful and nature-based environment, they were initially obligated to comply with this rule. Among the Park's original constructions, Sheep Meadow was by far the most costly, and the designers had to order a reshaping of the land and the uprooting of immigrants to create it.
This idea of the Meadow as a parade ground was quickly abandoned however, and, in 1864, 200 sheep were placed in the Park and housed in a Victorian building within the Meadow. In 1934 these sheep were transported to Prospect Park, Brooklyn and were replaced with Tavern on the Green. The 60's and 70's saw Sheep Meadow used for war protests, outdoor concerts, and hippie "love-ins", and the 1969 moon landing was also televised at the Meadow.