Daily Plant Masthead

Volume XVIII, Number 4009
Friday, Dec 19, 2003


<I><FONT SIZE=2><P ALIGN=Photo by Spencer T Tucker

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Photo by Spencer T Tucker

If you haven’t seen the Central Park Reservoir in the last few weeks, you’re in for a surprise. Walking or running around the 1.58 mile reservoir path will feel like you’re being transported back to the 1860’s. Thanks to a generous private donation, the fence around the reservoir has been restored to its original 1862 design.

On Wednesday, December 17, the Department of Parks & Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy celebrated the completion of the new fence. Despite heavy rains, about forty people gathered at the Central Park Boathouse to see a model of the new fence and to thank Donna and Marvin Schwartz, the donors. Construction began six months ago and was completed just last week. Joining the generous donors to cut the ribbon on the new fence was Regina Peruggi, President of the Central Park Conservancy; Patricia E. Harris, Deputy Mayor for Administration; Adrian Benepe, Commissioner of the Department of Parks & Recreation; Doug Blonksy, Central Park Administrator; and many of the Central Park Conservancy staff involved with the project.

"The project has created one of the most distinctive visual improvements in the Park since its restoration began 24 years ago," said Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "It will attract legions of new users. Joggers, mothers, dog walkers, children and grand-parents alike feel a deep connection and gratitude to this magnificent oasis nestled deep in the heart of the Park and the City."

A total of $2 million, funded solely by the Schwartzs’, went towards constructing and installing the 8,170 foot long fence. It is 4 feet 8 inches tall and made of steel with cast iron ornamentation. It replaces the tall chain link fence that had surrounded the reservoir since 1926, blocking views of the cityscape. The project required replicating patterns and molds to manufacture more than 40,800 cast iron pieces and to fabricate 1,514 new fence panels.

Interestingly, a section of the original 1862 fence, of which the new one very closely resembles, was found at the bottom of the reservoir during a SCUBA diving expedition. The piece was compared to historic photographs of the fence to create the replica. As the story goes, as soon as the Schwartzs heard about the under-water discovery, they committed to donating the funding necessary to replace the chain-link fence and restore the fabulous views of New York City for the thousands of New Yorkers that use the trail each day.

The Central Park Reservoir was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in 1994 and is maintained by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (though it is not currently used to provide drinking water.) The Central Park Reservoir was built between 1858 and 1862 and is impressive not only for its massive size (106 acres in the area, 1.6 miles in circumference, 39 feet deep, over 1 billion gallons in capacity) but also for its refined design.


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Matthew Arnold


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