History

 

In the 1960s, Mayor John Lindsay's two park commissioners, Thomas Hoving and August Heckscher, welcomed "happenings," rock concerts, and be-ins to the park, making it a symbol of both urban revival and the counterculture. In the 1970s, however, severe budget cuts during a fiscal crisis, a long-term decline in maintenance, and the revival of the preservation movement prompted a new approach to managing the park. In 1980, the Central Park Conservancy, a private fundraising body, took charge of restoring features of the Greensward Plan, including the Sheep Meadow, the Bethesda Terrace, and the Belvedere Castle (designed by Vaux and Mould). From 1980 to 1996, the Central Park Conservancy was led by Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, who was also appointed the Central Park Administrator; in 1996, Karen Putnam assumed the dual private and public posts. By 1990, the private organization of the Central Park Conservancy contributed more than half the public park's budget and exercised substantial influence on decisions about its future. Central Park, however, continues to be shaped by the public that uses it, from the joggers, disco roller skaters, and softball leagues to bird watchers and nature lovers.

The previous entry on "Central Park" is excerpted from The Encyclopedia of New York City, edited by Kenneth T. Jackson and published by Yale University Press (1995). It is reprinted with the permission of the authors, Elizabeth Blackmar and Roy Rosenzweig. They are also the authors of The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, which was published in 1992 and is available in paperback from Cornell University Press. The Park and the People was awarded a number of prizes, including the Historic Preservation Book Award and the Urban History Association Prize for Best Book in North American Urban History.
Click here to purchase "The Park and the People" from Amazon

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