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A Timeline of New York City Department of Parks & Recreation History

Illustration of Central Park area circa 1857

Most people are familiar with the opportunities for relaxation and recreation afforded by their city's parks. But New York's parks and playgrounds have another dimension, which is not always as evident: an exciting history. From the earliest days of European settlement to the present, parks have witnessed the growth of the city, been part of its development, and provided vital green spaces for its inhabitants.

This section of the website, adapted from the Parks booklet, Three Hundred Years of Parks: A Timeline of New York City Park History, acknowledges the importance of parks in the history of New York, and we hope it will encourage people to find out more about the history of parks. The more we learn about the fascinating past of our 28,000 acres of parkland, the more we will enjoy and protect this green legacy.

Thanks to the I.N. Phelps Stokes Collection, the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, and the Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations for providing information and artwork for this collection.

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