See How Much Central Park Has Changed Since the ’80s in These Before-and-After Photos

Posted On Thu, December 24, 2015 By

Posted On Thu, December 24, 2015 By In History, photography

In 1980, the Central Park Conservancy was formed as a nonprofit organization to manage the park under a contract with the City of New York and the Parks Department. As 6sqft noted in a previous interview with the Conservancy, they’re made up of “gardeners, arborists, horticulturists, landscape architects, designers, tour guides, archeologists, a communications team, and even a historian,” all of whom help to maintain the park as the gorgeous urban oasis we know and love today.

But before this, the park faced countless political and economic stressors, and without a central body to oversee it, entered a state of disrepair and neglect. It culminated in the ’80s (as the Conservancy worked on a plan for its rehabilitation) with barren patches of land, graffiti tags, and dead plants. Since it’s hard to imagine Central Park in such a state, the Conservancy has provided these incredible before-and-after photos that show just how far the beloved space has come.

One of the first projects undertaken by the Conservancy was to re-sod the lawns ↓

Central Park East Meadow, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Central Park East Meadow, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

The Dairy was another early restoration project ↓

Central Park Dairy, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Central Park Dairy, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Getting rid of graffiti was a main priority. Below is the point at the Central Park lake ↓

Central Park lake, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Central Park lake, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Belvedere Castle ↓

Belvedere Castle, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Belvedere Castle, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center ↓

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Central Park 1980s, Central Park Conservancy

Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, Central Park Conservancy

Bethesda Fountain ↓

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Bethesda Fountain, Central Park Conservancy

The Great Hill ↓

Central Park Great Hill, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park Great Hill, Central Park Conservancy

Cedar Hill ↓

Central Park Cedar Hill, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park Cedar Hill, Central Park Conservancy

Bank Rock Bay ↓

Central Park Bank Rock Bay, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park Bank Rock Bay, Central Park Conservancy

Conservatory Garden ↓

Central Park Conservatory Garden, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park Conservatory Garden, Central Park Conservancy

The Mall ↓

Central Park Mall, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park Mall, Central Park Conservancy

Azalia Pond ↓

Central Park Azalia Pond, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park Azalia Pond, Central Park Conservancy

72nd Street entrance ↓

Central Park 72nd Street entrance, Central Park Conservancy, Central Park 1980s

Central Park 72nd Street entrance, Central Park Conservancy

Be sure to check out even more before-and-after photos in our gallery below.

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All photos courtesy of the Central Park Conservancy

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  • urban_wanderer

    Thanks for posting these photos. I remember the park from those days. It was dingy, depressing and dangerous. The Parks Department will never have the money to maintain Central Park properly. Thank heaven for the Conservancy.

  • Shibby

    Geesh it must have been so bad that the trees never bloomed and it was always winter!

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