Looking for interesting facts about Central Park? You’ve come to the right place. I’ve lived in New York City most of my life and my childhood is peppered with pleasant memories of Central Park.
Central Park exudes a romantic charm that few can resist falling in love with. And there’s no denying that visiting the park is a must-do whether it’s your first visit to the Big Apple or hundredth. But for as beloved as the park is, there’s not too many things folks know about, so let’s change that.
Allow me to share the most interesting facts about Central Park in New York City.
A great day in New York would be to wake up, get a cup of coffee and head up to Central Park for a nice walk.Emmanuelle Chriqui
The (Important) History Of Central Park
At New York Simply we believe that knowledge is power and it’s our job to glean important information to share. To that end, let’s talk about the history of Central Park and what you should know before your visit.
The park was designed in 1853 and sits on the site of a former village called Seneca Village. The fact that residents of Seneca Village were ruthlessly displaced to build a grand park is a stain NYC can’t wipe away to this day.
The area we now call Central Park used to be home to a village founded in 1825 by freed American slaves. It was home not only to property-owning African Americans but also to a healthy population of German and Irish residents.
Seneca Village served as a safe haven from the racial discrimination in the city and allowed residents a chance to escape the the fast pace in favor of a calm setting. However, when the decision for a large city park was finalized the village was razed after being seized through eminent domain.
(Eminent domain is just a fancy way of labeling the government’s ability to seize private property in the name of “public use” by compensating the landlord, however measly the sum.)
After the land was cleared, it came time to start designing the park. A design competition was held in 1857 and after reviewing the 33 entries, the winning team was chosen — the duo Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Construction on Central Park began in 1857 and the completed portions were opened to the public starting in 1858. The park was completed in 1876 and has gone through quite the transformation since then.
Today the park is run by the Central Park Conservancy, which was created in 1980 with the goal of keeping Central Park in tip-top shape and to prevent it from falling into decline.
Interesting Facts About Central Park
Central Park is the most filmed location in the world
Let’s start this list of the most interesting Central Park facts with my personal favorite — Central Park is the most filmed location in the world.
In fact, Central Park is credited in 532 movies. Movies are filmed in Central Park way more than any other place on earth. For example, the second most filmed location in the world is Trafalgar Square in London, with 131 movie credits (compared to Central Park’s 530+).
It’s not hard to see why, the park is picture-perfect (it was designed from scratch after all). Strolling the park in autumn or spring will make you feel helplessly in love and production crews know how to monetize on that.
As a resident of New York City, I can confirm that a lot of shows and movies get filmed in the park. On numerous occasions I’ve taken a random stroll through Central Park and accidentally walked by a film shoot, once for the Sex & the City reboot, which was so fun to watch.
Purchasing Central Park was more expensive than buying the state of Alaska
Here’s a fun fact about Central Park that most folks don’t know. The 843-acres of land for Central Park cost New York State legislature approximately 7.4 million dollars. For reference, the U.S. paid Russia 7.2 million for Alaska around the same time.
It’s said that the land was purchased to create a beautiful city park that rivals those in Paris and London. But some argue that the land was set aside to increase property value for wealthy New Yorkers that didn’t want their views obstructed, alas.
Regardless of the final price tag, today we understand that Central Park is priceless and New York City wouldn’t be the same without it.
Further reading: 5 Great Spots to Catch Spring Blooms in Central Park
Interesting Central Park Fact: Central Park is larger than the country of Monaco
While we’re on the topic of comparing Central Park to impressive states, let’s add this fascinating fact about Central Park: It’s bigger than the country of Monaco.
Monaco is study in opulence, without a doubt, but the country only spans 500 acres, compared to Central Park’s 843 acres. To truly understand the impressive size of Central Park you’d need to see if from the air, which is why the window seat on the airplane is prime. Or, if you’re bold, take a helicopter tour to take in the views.
If you circle above Central Park at night in a helicopter, you’re looking down at the most expensive real estate in the world. It’s the American Monopoly board.Ridley Scott
There are more than 10,000 benches in Central Park
One of my favorite things to do on a day off is to stroll through the park aimlessly and read the personalized plaques on the benches. I later learned an interesting fact about Central Park’s benches – there’s more than 10,000 of them and 7,000 don personalized plaques.
The Adopt-A-Bench program was started in 1986 as a way to increase maintenance funding for the park. The program was a huge success and folks from all over the world seek to leave their mark. The challenge? The steep $10,000 price tag.
That’s right, you can adopt a bench in Central Park but it won’t come cheap. However, people still continue to do so and the 120 character plaques continue to go up on empty benches. This seems to be a popular things to do in the memory of a loved one or to commemorate a big life event like an important anniversary.
Central Park is the most amazing gift. It’s incredible. You find new spots, new people, new friends for the dogs.Diana Taylor
Central Park was the first landscaped park in the country
Here’s a cool Central Park fact for history buffs — Central Park was the first landscaped park in the country. Modeled after the handsome parks in European cities like Paris and London, New Yorkers wanted to keep up. As I mentioned earlier, a competition was held and the winning architect team was chosen.
The architects had their work cut out for them. The park was designed from scratch and dynamite was used to level the land. However, when the park was completed it became an instant success and other cities started to follow suit.
The park was designed to be a microcosm of the state (cool fact about Central Park)
When designing the park, Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux sought inspiration from the state of New York. Indeed, their plan was to make Central Park a microcosm of the state. Their plan envisioned a curated park where certain sections acted as representations for areas both inside and outside the city.
This Central Park fact is made most evident in the heavy canopy of the Ramble, which represent the Adirondacks in the northern reaches of the state. The southern end of the park is more manicured and evokes the wealthy neighborhoods it surrounds.
You might enjoy reading: A Breathtaking Look at Central Park in the Fall
There’s only one straight line in the entire park
Want to know one of my favorite facts about Central Park? There’s only one straight line in the entire park. The park is defined by meandering paths that curve from one point to the next and they’re intentionally built that way.
The vision for the park was that it would represent the natural flow of nature. Some argue that the park was intentional designed without straight lines to deter horse carriage races, but that hasn’t been confirmed. What has been confirmed is that the only straight in the park can be found at The Mall.
The Mall was referred to as the “open air hall of reception” by the park’s architects and served as a place for the wealthy to parade and show off in front of the “less fortunate.”
The width of the promenade accommodated horse-drawn carriages that would drop off the wealthy at the start of the Mall so that they could mingle with those of lesser status while casually strolling through. When they reached Bethesda Terrace they would simple jump back aboard their waiting carriage and head out to the next spot.
The Mall is a popular attraction within the park, especially in the fall when the American Elms are adorned with vibrant pops of color. Speaking of the American Elms…
The mall is home to the largest plantation of American elm in the world
The stunning American Elms that line the promenade are considered to the one of the largest surviving plantations of the American elm in the world.
Although common at the time they were planted in the park, they American elm has been dying off across the country. However, the trees located at the Mall are well taken care of and have survived to this day.
Surprising fact about Central Park: It’s not even the largest park in New York City
Remember how I mentioned that Central Park was larger than the country of Monaco? Well, allow me to share a surprising Central Park fact with you, it’s not even the biggest park in New York City!
The title for the largest park in NYC goes to Pelham Bay Park in the Bronx. Spanning an impressive 2,765 acres, Pelham Bay Park dwarfs Central Park. But let’s take this a step further, yet another interesting fact about Central Park is that it’s not even the second largest park in the city, nor the third or fourth.
Yet, it’s the most visited park in the country
Regardless of the fact that it’s not even the biggest park in the city, Central Park is the most visiting park in the country. How’s that for surprise facts about Central Park?
The park gets an average of 42 million visitors per year, officially making this one of the most heavily visited places in the world. The best part? Most of these visits are return visitors and an estimated 70% of the park’s visitors are locals. As a local I can confirm that Central Park doesn’t lose it’s magic or charm, even on the hundredth visit.
Central Park is completely man-made
If you’ve wandered through the park even once you may find this Central Park fact surprising as well. Central Park is completely man-made. The area was completely demolished using dynamite so that the architects could start from scratch. Everything you see in the park is man-made and that includes the lakes, woodlands and hills.
I will say though, the nature in Central Park never ceases to fascinate me. I constantly find myself thinking about the birds and how they don’t care one bit that the trees were planted intentionally, or the ducks that don’t give a hoot about how the lake got there. And then I remember that I myself don’t care that the park is completely man-made because it doesn’t feel like it.
There’s a reason it’s called Sheep Meadow
Sheep Meadow is arguably the most popular spot in Central Park. On a warm summer day the 15-acre meadow swells with up to 30,000 people, it’s a sight to behold!
What most of these folks don’t know is that Sheep Meadow is aptly named because it was literally a sheep meadow back in the day. The lawn was peppered with grazing sheep on a mission to keep the meadow manicured. The sheep were removed in 1934 but the name stuck.
The building of the park displaced a prosperous African American community
Recall how I mentioned Seneca Village in the history section? Well one interesting fact about Central Park that I’d like to delve further into is the fact that the African Americans displaced from Seneca Village appeared to be very prosperous (worth noting because at the time it was painfully rare for African Americans to own property). In fact, it’s estimated that half of the African-American residents of Seneca Village owned their homes, a staggering amount.
At that time there was a law in the city that men could only vote if they owned property valued at $250 and could prove residency of three years. In 1845 there were 100 African-Americans eligible to vote and 10 of them lived in Seneca Village, further speaking to the devastation of the unjust razing of the village.
Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest fountains in NYC
Measuring twenty-six feet high and ninety-six feet wide, Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest fountains in New York City, not to mention the park’s most iconic fountain. This fountain and statue was the only commissioned sculpture in the park’s original design. The bronze statue was designed by Emma Stebbins in 1868, making her the first woman to receive a commission for major art work in New York City.
Stebbins modeled the angel after her partner, actress Charlotte Cushman and the fountain was officially dedicated in 1873. As for the name? Stebbins referred to the water flowing from the fountain as healing and referenced a biblical quote:
“Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called… Bethesda… whoever then first after the troubling of the waters stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.”
Make sure to properly admire Bethesda Terrace while you’re exploring the fountain. Bethesda Terrace is remarkable. It’s the park’s only formal architectural setting and it was executed perfectly. Lined with 16,000 ceiling tiles, the terrace’s arcade creates the ideal acoustic environment and draws in some of the city’s most talented street musicians.
Cool Central Park Fact: Carbon Emission, who?
Wrapping up this list of the coolest facts about Central Park with my favorite, the 20,000 trees in Central Park absorb and estimated one million pounds of carbon dioxide every year. In other words, we need Central Park more than we know.
Our Video on the Best Things to do in Central Park
Interesting facts about Central Park NYC (Post Round Up)
Here’s a quick roundup of the most interesting facts about New York City
- Central Park is the most filmed location in the world
- Purchasing Central Park was more expensive than buying Alaska
- Central Park is larger than the country of Monaco
- There are more than 10,000 benches in the park
- Central Park was the first landscaped park in the country
- The park was designed to be a microcosm of the state
- There’s only one straight line in the entire park
- The Mall is home to the largest plantation of American Elm
- Surprising Central Park Fact: It’s not even the biggest park in NYC
- But it is the most visiting park in the country
- Central Park is completely man-made
- There’s a reason they call it Sheep Meadow
- Building Central Park displaced African-Americans
- Bethesda Fountain is one of the largest statues in the city
- Carbon Emission, who?
Interesting Central Park facts, cool facts about Central Park, Central Park facts