Happy 164th Birthday Central Park: Reflecting on Years of Memories

On July 21, 1853, the New York State Legislature enacted a law that set aside more than 750 acres of land in Manhattan to create the country’s first major landscaped public park. New York City hasn’t been the same since. Central Park serves as a fun spot to meet friends, a must-see vacation destination, a peaceful place to relax, a popular location for bird-watching, and more.

To celebrate 164 years of Central Park, we asked you to share your favorite Park memories and photos. Continue to share your #centralparkmoments with us (all year long!) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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“Central Park has been my backyard for most of my life. I am proud to say I am a third-generation City kid. I captured this photo of a sunset at the Reservoir after it had rained most of the day. Right place, right time.” — Robyn Roth-Moise

Millions of people who live or work in New York City treat Central Park as their backyard, lunch spot, or just a nearby getaway from City life—after all, that was the Park’s original intention. Many of you shared how the Park has been host to even the simplest of pleasures over the years.

“Central Park was a sanctuary for me walking home from work in the madness of Midtown. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I enter the Park because it is so breathtakingly beautiful. The North Woods was the place I spent a lot of time for its peace and quiet. Looking around, one cannot see any of the high-rise buildings in this area. Magical!” — Sylvia Mastandrea

“After moving to New York City from Virginia I was a little down — missing the trees and quiet wilderness. A friend got me jogging with a group in the Park and my life changed. The Park provides a wonderful and peaceful solitude, but with a real community feel of shared relaxation and communing with nature. Central Park is a place where New Yorkers can walk on the grass and sit in the shade of trees and smile.” — Anonymous

“Central Park is my refuge from the noisy and hectic activity in Manhattan. With its trees, flowers, and other plantings, I feel like I am in the countryside. The hills, rocks, and bodies of water encourage me to explore the landscape. Walking around the Park is a great form of exercise. The Ramble and North Woods are my favorite parts of the Park. The wildlife in the Park is diverse and fascinating to watch. I learned how to fish in Central Park as a child. My introduction to bird-watching was in the Park watching the famous red-tailed hawks. Central Park is the best place to be in Manhattan!” — Anonymous

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“This past winter I spent a fair amount of time wandering around Central Park, searching and creating moments where life seemed to stand still. It has always been a haven from the bustling city that lies just outside its borders – but come winter it is truly something else.” — Nico Schinco

Countless romantic gestures take place in Central Park every day—from proposals to weddings to first dates. It’s not uncommon to stumble upon lovebirds getting engaged or married. Bow Bridge is a popular location for proposals, and Conservatory Garden is a favorite spot to say “I do.” You shared stories of romance and love with us—with Central Park as the special backdrop.

“My husband and I got married at Central Park last year. We are originally from Texas, but we chose Central Park because it's such a magical place in the heart of our favorite city—NYC.” — Blanca Infante

“My most precious memory of Central Park was when my husband proposed to me on a bench along the Mall. There was a jazz band performing, and it was a beautiful afternoon in September.” — Anonymous

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“I first walked the park from south to north more than five years ago, and since then, I've been walking there every weekend. Walking in the park has made me more attuned to nature and the beauty around us that we often take for granted. To see the seasons change is a blessing.” — @gigi_nyc

With 21 playgrounds, 250 acres of lawns, and 26 ballfields, Central Park always offers children something to do or a new area to explore. Many stories you shared with us included special moments from your own childhood, or new memories you’re making with your kids today.

“One of my fondest childhood memories is having my 6th birthday party at the Ancient Playground. You see, for me, a Bronx girl, I was instantly transported to another world. I was a famous archaeologist on a world-class dig. I was amidst the ancient pyramids and pharaohs. The sand under my feet, the sun beating down on my face, and danger waited around every corner. It was an adventure that I cherished and will carry with me forever. That birthday party began my love affair with Central Park. The beauty, serenity, and vibrancy of nature provide a retreat as it welcomes its visitors. Today, I introduce my son to it and reveal my secret adventures.” — Anonymous

“We like to think that Central Park is our backyard. My daughter took her first steps there. We have celebrated many family milestones there and continue to discover new adventures in the Park as it is a place full of wonderful surprises. We have sailed boats, watched movies be filmed, seen puppet shows, climbed every playground and slid down every slide, rode bikes around the entire perimeter, crossed the Park in a beautiful icy winter downpour, tried French Burnt Nuts from a vendor, climbed the tallest rocks, and ran the Reservoir.” — Marie Moss

“My earliest memories of Central Park come from the late 1940s. Dancing in Sheep Meadow brought groups of kids—all girls as I remember—from playgrounds across the city where we had practiced our choreographies for weeks. At Sheep Meadow, we showed off the results of our efforts. We were all about 9 to 12 years of age, and going that far from home was magical.” — Eugene Sherman

Filled with beautiful landscapes, wildlife, recreation, and architecture, Central Park means something different to everyone. We’re thankful for 164 years of this well-loved urban park in the middle of Manhattan, and are proud to have restored, managed, and enhanced it since 1980. We’re grateful to visitors like you who support our work and create millions of memories in Central Park every year. We hope you continue to share your #centralparkmoments with us (all year long!) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Happiest of birthdays to you, Central Park!