The Central Park Conservancy is constantly working to enhance, restore, and improve Central Park. Did you know that visitors like you donate 75% of the funding needed to care for the Park? Show your support by donating or becoming a member today, or continue reading to learn more about the Conservancy's most recent restoration projects.
Project Timeline: Summer through Fall 2013
The landscape just south of the Harlem Meer has a rich pre-Park history. During the Revolutionary War, the British built military fortifications on the bluffs overlooking Harlem. These were rebuilt by Americans during the War of 1812, but never used. These were incorporated into the Park when its northern boundary was extended to 110th Street. By the late 1920s, the landscape had become overgrown and deteriorated and there were few remaining traces of the fortifications. In 1934, the area was fenced off and designated a bird sanctuary. In the 1940s, as part of a project to reconstruct the landscapes around the Meer, paths were added to the Fort Landscape and along the south shore of the Meer. The existing overlooks at Fort Clinton and Nutter’s Batter were also built at this time. Since then, the landscape has deteriorated and there are problems with poor drainage, erosion, deteriorating pathways, and inadequate irrigation infrastructure.
This project is one of the last phases of the larger project to restore the landscapes on the east side of the Park, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art to the Harlem Meer. The work includes rebuilding paths and stairs; reconstructing and upgrading storm drainage infrastructure and irrigation systems; restoring lawn and enhancing landscape plantings; and replacing site amenities including benches and lighting.
Project Timeline: February 2013 to Fall 2013
Project Details: This project consists of a comprehensive reconstruction of the landscape directly adjacent to the west and north sides of the MET. The work consists of rebuilding drainage and irrigation infrastructure and park paths; landscape restoration, including amending the soil, establishing lawn, and installing new plantings; and the installation of new site furnishings including lights, fences, benches, and drinking fountains.
Project Timeline: June 2013 to October 2013
The William Tecumseh Sherman monument by Augustus Saint-Gaudens is widely regarded as one of the artist’s greatest public works and one of the most important equestrian statues in the country. The monument depicts a winged figure of the goddess Victory, leading General Sherman on his horse Ontario. The equestrian group is gilded bronze, supported by a pink granite base, designed by Charles Follen McKim of the architectural firm McKim, Mead & White. The monument was installed in 1903 in the center of a traffic circle at the southeast corner of Central Park. The area was henceforth known as Grand Army Plaza. In 1921 the monument was moved sixteen feet to the west and incorporated into the expansion of the Plaza based on a design by the architecture firm Carrère and Hasting.
Project Details: This project aims to address the current condition of the Sherman monument through a comprehensive conservation treatment. The work includes repointing the monument base; removing the existing coatings; evaluating, cleaning, and conserving the bronze; regilding and toning the monument; and applying protective coatings.
Project Timeline: January 2013 through Summer 2013
Project Details: This comprehensive reconstruction of Tots Playground aims to enhance the playground’s relationship with the Park and the adjacent Adventure Playground. In response to the small size of the space and current use patterns, it also aims to improve the play experience for the youngest playground users.
The work includes:
Site History: The playground known as Tots Playground was constructed in 1956, the last playground created during the administration of Robert Moses. It was a result of a highly publicized conflict between upper west side neighborhood parents and the administration of the Parks Department known as the "Battle of Central Park."
In 1956, Robert Moses planned to construct a new parking lot for Tavern on The Green to the north of the entrance drive at 67th Street, on a well-shaded, grassy area adjacent to one of the marginal playgrounds. The landscape slated for the parking lot was well-used by mothers and their children in the neighborhood, as a place to gather, picnic, and run around on the grass. Mothers described it as "an unofficial playground" and would often sit on the benches along the outside of the playground fence, from which they could keep an eye on children playing both inside the playground and in the landscape.
When the mothers discovered the plans, they quickly launched a protest to prevent the project from going forward. They contacted the press and local politicians and staged a protest at the site where a bulldozer had already mobilized. Despite a substantial amount of negative press, Moses pushed forward with the project and in a clandestine effort, directed the first round of construction to take place at night. The mothers awoke to find a portion of the landscape razed and numerous trees removed. They intensified their protest, hiring a lawyer who managed to convince a judge to put a temporary stop to the work, in part by arguing that the expansion of Tavern on the Green was a serious encroachment on the Park. After a few months of stalling, the Parks Department decided not to risk going to trial and the potential for additional negative publicity and cancelled the project. With the landscape already significantly altered, the Parks Department decided to offer what it considered a concession to those who had opposed the parking lot: they would create a new playground on the site.
The resulting playground was somewhat typical of other Moses-era playgrounds. It included standard play equipment such as swings, a slide, and a small jungle gym. It was about one-third of the size of the typical playground, however, and its rectilinear form—determined by the plans for the proposed parking lot—contrasted with the ovoid footprints of the typical perimeter playgrounds. To accommodate the playground, new paths were added and existing paths reconfigured, including the relocation of a section of the Bridle Path to the east.
The playground has been rebuilt twice. In 1968 it was rebuilt based on a design by Dattner who had redesigned the adjacent playground as "Adventure Playground" in 1966. It was intended as a complement to that playground, with smaller scale play features intended for younger children. In 1987, the Conservancy renovated the playground, installing new post-and-platform play equipment, a sandbox, safety surfacing, and drainage infrastructure. The swings from the existing playground were retained, along with the benches which lined the perimeter of the playground. The program of use was also maintained and the playground was designed for use by pre-school age children.
Project Timeline: Fall 2012 through Summer 2013
Project details: The project includes a complete reconstruction of the East 110th Street Playground and improvements to enhance and restore the surrounding landscape, aiming to better integrate playground with the Park. This represents the first full reconstruction of the playground since 1979.
The project will:
Site History: The site of the Harlem Meer was added to the Park in 1860, when the original boundary at 106th Street was extended to 110th Street. The low-lying swamp in the northeast corner of the expanded park site was drained to create the Meer, a naturalistic lake surrounded by a planted landscape on its north side and rocky bluffs on its south side. A boathouse was built in 1930, and the first playground on the site was constructed in 1936 as part of Robert Moses's original perimeter playground system. Over the rest of the 20th century, the area was increasingly urbanized: in the 1940s, the Parks Department built a larger boathouse, a concrete edge around the shoreline and a steel picket fence separating the paths, water and lawns. The playground, as well as the Meer, experienced a period of decline and neglect like the rest of the Park. The playground's reconstruction in 1979 was a small improvement in a blighted landscape until the Conservancy began a dramatic restoration of the Harlem Meer in the late 1980s, including the building of the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in the early 1990s. In 1996, the Conservancy also partially renovated the playground but retained most elements of the 1979 construction.
One of Central Park's favorite attractions, the Carousel is visited by almost 250,000 riders each year. On warm days, it’s not uncommon for the line to snake around the popcorn and balloon vendors.