Remembering Ira Millstein, Conservancy Trustee and Central Park Champion

The Central Park Conservancy lost one of its most fervent supporters and influential figures with the passing of Ira Millstein on March 13, 2024. Ira was a Life Trustee, Chairman of the Board (1991–1999), a devoted supporter of the Conservancy's Women’s Committee, and a champion of Central Park as an iconic and essential part of the city he loved. A native New Yorker, Ira fondly recalled the Central Park of his youth as his “playground” in an interview for The New York Times. That affection and affinity for the Park only amplified with time.

Events Fall Foliage Tour 2013 DSC 4188

Ira Millstein was a tireless champion of Central Park, and his unwavering dedication made an indelible mark on the heart of the city loved.

Ira’s commitment to Central Park was instrumental in revitalizing the Park after its most severe period of neglect and decline following the City’s near bankruptcy in the 1970s. He went on to advise the Conservancy as it navigated its massive investment in the Park’s restoration and its evolution into one of the City’s most impactful public-private partnerships. Under his guidance, the first contract between the Central Park Conservancy and the City of New York was formalized in 1998, and he continued to serve as a trusted advisor to Conservancy leadership as it grappled with the challenges of managing the Park’s enormous popularity.

Ira oversaw a number of significant projects in the Park’s history during his tenure as Chairman of the Board. A dedicated advocate for diversity and the power of bringing people together in service of a common goal, he worked tirelessly with the late Reverend Calvin Butts and other leaders of the Harlem community in the 1990s. Together, they welcomed surrounding communities into the Park and spearheaded improvements to the Park’s north end that continue to take shape today.

CPCBW Neg 43736 25 Dana Center Opening

Ira Millstein, center, at the opening of the Charles A. Dana Discovery Center in 1993.

In addition to his service to Central Park, Ira was a distinguished lawyer, professor, and author. He was a senior partner at Weil, Gotshal & Manges and the founding chair of the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School.

Ira will forever be remembered as an esteemed member of the Central Park Conservancy family. His commitment to Central Park over his lifetime has been essential in making it the beloved landmark it is today. He has left an indelible mark on New York City’s prized greenspace, and we will miss him.

Suggested Reading