The Central Park Conservancy raises 75% of the Park's annual budget and is responsible for the work essential to keeping Central Park beautiful.
Watch Central Park Conservancy: Our Story
Produced by Columbia SIPA
The Central Park Conservancy, a private, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1980 by a group of concerned citizens determined to improve Central Park. Today, we manage Central Park under a contract with the City of New York. Over its 160-year history, the Park has experienced several cycles of restoration and decline. The era of decline in the 1960s and 1970s led to the Central Park Conservancy's formation. The Central Park Conservancy is uniquely qualified to prevent future declines and ensure the Park's care for current and future generations.
Thanks to the generosity of many individuals, corporations, foundations, and the City of New York, the Central Park Conservancy has invested over $950 million to date in the Park, making it a model for urban parks worldwide. We provide 75% of Central Park's $67 million annual operating budget, and are responsible for all aspects of Park maintenance, as well as capital improvements and restorations.
With 42 million visits each year to its 843 acres, Central Park is the most frequently visited urban park in the United States. To manage the Park, Conservancy crews aerate and seed lawns; rake leaves; prune and fertilize trees; plant shrubs and flowers; maintain ballfields and playgrounds; remove graffiti; conserve monuments, bridges, and buildings; and care for water bodies and woodlands, by controlling erosion, maintaining the drainage system, and protecting over 150 acres of lakes and streams from pollution, siltation, and algae.
Read The Central Park Effect to learn about Central Park’s contribution to New York City’s economy.
Healthy cities need parks, and parks need management. As the world leader in urban park management, the Conservancy is uniquely positioned to teach what we have learned to park users and managers in order to develop respect and responsibility for urban parks, both locally and globally. The Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks was formed in 2013 as the educational arm of the Conservancy. Through a variety of educational programs and learning resources, the Institute teaches people about managing and making good use of urban parks. It is a privilege for us as the caretakers of Central Park to share our experience and expertise with managers, educators, students, and visitors to help shape the future of urban parks.
The mission of the Central Park Conservancy is to restore, manage, and enhance Central Park in partnership with the public.
The Central Park Conservancy aspires to build a great organization that sets the standard for and spreads the principles of world-class park management – emphasizing environmental excellence – to improve the quality of open space for the enjoyment of all. The Central Park Conservancy is committed to sustaining this operating model to provide a legacy for future generations of park users.
Central Park is a masterpiece of landscape architecture created to provide a scenic retreat from urban life for the enjoyment of all and, in so doing, helps establish New York's place among the great cities of the world. As the organization entrusted with the responsibility of caring for New York's most important public space, our work is founded on the belief that citizen leadership and private philanthropy are key to ensuring that the Park and its essential purpose endure.
In 2013, the City of New York awarded a new, 10-year management agreement to the Central Park Conservancy. Originally signed in 1998, and renewed in 2006, the 2013 agreement affirmed the City's confidence in its more than 35-year partnership with the Central Park Conservancy in jointly managing Central Park.
The Central Park Conservancy provides for Central Park's day-to-day care, as well as certain maintenance work in other New York City parks outside Central Park. Specifically the Conservancy is responsible for landscape and lawn maintenance, tree care, horticultural work, cleaning and repairing playgrounds and comfort stations, repairing benches, graffiti removal, clearing walkways, and maintaining and repairing monuments and select Park structures. In addition, the 2013 agreement defined the Conservancy's role in supporting and training City employees working in other parks throughout the five boroughs in best practices relating to horticulture care and operations management.
In consideration for the services the Central Park Conservancy performs on the City's behalf, it receives an annual fee from the City, determined using a formula that requires the Conservancy to annually raise and spend a specified minimum amount of private funds in the Park. Since 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has invested $950 million in Central Park to support Park operations, capital improvements, and public programs for Park visitors and volunteers.
In connection with the City's partnership with the Central Park Conservancy, the City retains overall control and policy responsibility for Central Park. The Parks Commissioner and officials of the City of New York/Parks & Recreation are involved in all aspects of Park planning, and must approve all capital improvements the Conservancy seeks to undertake. In addition, administrative rulemaking, law enforcement, and concessions operations in Central Park are under the exclusive domain of the City.
The Central Park Conservancy's diverse governing board includes a cross-section of individuals including City officials, mayoral appointees, and individuals that represent the community that uses the Park. There are 43 General Trustees; 4 Ex-Officio Trustees including the Parks Commissioner, the Borough President of Manhattan, the Central Park Administrator, and the President of the Women’s Committee; up to 2 Board Appointed Community Trustees; 5 Trustees appointed by the Mayor of the City of New York; 9 Life Trustees; and 4 Founding Trustees. Together, these individuals work toward the common goal of preserving and enhancing Central Park for future generations.