If you’ve walked through Central Park on a recent weekend, you’ve likely noticed lush grass, blooming flowers, and hordes of tourists and locals alike enjoying the city’s unofficial backyard. But a closer look reveals “the debilitating effects of time and modern use,” according to the Times, which is why the Central Park Conservancy is embarking a 10-year, $300 million campaign to fund repairs and restorations in the 843-acre open space.
“Forever Green: Ensuring the Future of Central Park” will address issues such as a leaking roof at the 144-year-old Belvedere Castle, plumbing issues and cracked pavement at the Conservatory Garden, and insufficient infrastructure at the Naumburg Bandshell. It will also restore arches, bridges, gazebos, and waterways to Olmsted and Vaux’s original Adirondack- and Catskills-inspired vision.
The Central Park Conservancy was formed in 1980 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.” Today, they have an annual budget of $65 million, 25 percent of which comes from the city and the rest from private fundraising.
Just four years ago, the Conservancy received a $100 million gift from hedge funder John A. Paulson, the largest such donation to the NYC park system. But as the Times articulates, some “argue that the park has been a victim of its own success.” In 1981, it had 12 million annual visitors, whereas today it sees 42 million. To that end, the Conservancy has already secured $112 million of its $300 goal, an indicator of its success in raising private dollars, and has begun restoration work on the North Woods and the Ramble.
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Images: Belvedere Castle (top) and Conservatory Garden (below)