Magazine

The Park Needs Us - All of Us

Central Park is in pristine condition today thanks to community activism that began 40 years ago, when a few New Yorkers joined together to save the City’s backyard from ruin. The Park had deteriorated to the point of disrepair, dusty lawns and murky waters offering little respite from the surrounding cement and skyscrapers. Then a few passionate people set out to restore the Park to its full potential. 

Together they formed the Central Park Conservancy. Founded on the heels of the City’s near bankruptcy, the Conservancy’s mission was to rescue this national treasure, which they did with great success. Today our staff of over 300, volunteer force of nearly 3,500, donors, members, neighbors, and visitors continue the work started 40 years ago. It is thanks to this community of people who love, advocate, and care for all aspects of the Park that it remains beautiful and an invaluable asset to New York—an essential open space that serves the City’s diverse neighborhoods and brings the serenity of nature to a bustling metropolis.

Formed in 1980 to rescue the Park from deterioration and ruin, the Central Park Conservancy continues to preserve and celebrate Central Park as a sanctuary from the pace and pressures of city life.

Each member of our community has a vital role to play. Collectively, our dedication to the Park ensures that lawns and trees are healthy, flowers bloom, wildlife habitats thrive, and New Yorkers and visitors from around the globe have a place for recreation, rest, and renewal.

The Conservancy is entrusted by the City of New York to care for its most iconic location, a truly pioneering effort in public-private partnerships. That model once again came to the rescue during the COVID-19 pandemic, when the City’s funding—typically only 15% of the Conservancy’s operating budget—significantly decreased because of the economic turmoil wrought by the global health crisis.

The staff member stoops to tend the blooms in a section of the Shakespeare Garden in spring.

Together, staff and volunteers tend to the Park’s complex maintenance and restoration needs—from horticulture and tree and turf care to trash management, visitor services, and more.

Even as businesses and cultural centers throughout the City closed, it remained imperative that Central Park stay open, clean, and a reprieve for all. During the past year, the Park has been integral to New Yorkers who sought out fresh air as they navigated a life profoundly altered. The strong foundation formed over the last four decades allowed the Park to be staffed and cared for during the darkest days of the pandemic, made possible by the many years of commitment from the larger Conservancy community.

We’ve all needed Central Park—for comfort and constancy during the pandemic, or simply a pause from the pace of everyday life—but the Park needs all of us, visitors, members, donors, volunteers, and staff alike, to give as much as we get from it.

A volunteer and a Conservancy staff member exchange a tray of fresh plantings amidst a rustic landscape.

It takes a community to keep Central Park healthy and vibrant.

Whether you volunteer, donate, advocate, or work with us, or if you simply care for the Park and all it represents, you are part of the Central Park Conservancy. We rescued Central Park years ago and together we continue in its care and stewardship. The Park needs us—all of us.