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Central Park

Bethesda Fountain in Central Park after a March snow storm

Central Park, the 843-acre green oasis in the center of Manhattan is New York's most well-known park, and perhaps the most famous urban park in the world. Its history began in 1856 with the acquisition of 778 acres of land, for the purpose of building a grand open space, designed specifically for public use. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's "Greensward" plan was selected among the entries of a contest to determine the design for the city's new park. Built with 590 species of shrubs and 815 species of perennials and Alpine plants, an environmental mecca inspired by English romantic landscapes was situated within this metropolis. From its beginning, urbanites have flocked to the park, with over 4 million visitors making their way to the park in 1863, the same year that the final acres of park were procured, extending it to its current border at 110th Street. Today the park averages over 20 million visitors per year. Since its construction, Central Park has evolved from a place of pastoral grandeur to a combination of natural beauty, recreational facilities and outdoor arenas.