Thirty years ago, Central Park’s deteriorated state was a symbol of New York City’s decline. Today, it's one of the world's most popular tourist destinations and New York City's beloved front yard. Central Park has never looked better. Since 1980, the Central Park Conservancy has restored nearly every one of the Park's 843 acres, welcoming an astonishing 40 million visitors annually.
The Conservancy’s extraordinary restoration of Central Park requires extraordinary maintenance. We have field staff and volunteers working seven days a week in all seasons and weather to keep the Park healthy and beautiful. They keep Sheep Meadow green by seeding and mowing. They keep the North Woods lush by pruning and weeding invasive plants, one at a time by hand. The Conservatory Garden, once ranked the "scariest place in Central Park," is now one of most likely places in New York to spot a wedding. Every piece of our man-made Park, including its 80 acres of woodlands, seven water bodies and 55 historic monuments, requires preservation and maintenance. Without constant care, the decay of the 1960s and 70s could return.
The Park looks as good as it does thanks to the generosity of Central Park Conservancy supporters. Eighty-five percent of Central Park’s $58.3 million annual expense budget comes from private donations. Central Park has received an unprecedented gift of $100 million from John A. Paulson and the Paulson Family Foundation to help sustain the progress we've made since 1980 and ensure that generations to come will be able to make their own memories here.
Mr. Paulson's donation is the largest gift ever made to any public park and one of the largest ever made to a New York City cultural institution. The announcement was made under cloudy skies in a ceremony attended by hundreds of employees of the Central Park Conservancy in their gray sweatshirts, as well as the Conservancy’s board. Doug Blonsky, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Conservancy, hailed the gift as "transformational," saying that it would break the cycle of restoration and decline that has marked the Park throughout its over 150-year history. The gift will sustain the Conservancy's on-going innovation of management and maintenance practices. It will allow us to make Park-wide improvements to infrastructure, continue the restoration of the Park’s 21 playgrounds and 80 acres of woodlands, assist in the development of family and youth programming, maintain the Park's landscapes, visitor centers and recreation centers, and much more.
The gift marks a transformative moment for the Conservancy and Central Park, and has the potential to impact parks and other non-profits locally and around the world. The Conservancy's management model has already influenced other conservancies. This gift ensures that we can continue to spread our expertise throughout the city and world. Mr. Paulson's generous gift will contribute enormously to the future of Central Park. But he cannot secure its future alone. With your help, we can keep Central Park green for generations.