Dec 21, 2009 – Snow covered trees and benches in Central Park, New York City – Ellen Rooney / Getty Images
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Central Park is an 843 acres (3.41 km2; 1.317 sq mi) public, urban park in the Borough of Manhattan, in New York City. It is similar in size to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, Chicago’s Lincoln Park, Vancouver’s Stanley Park and Munich’s Englischer Garten and just over 1/3 of the size of London’s Richmond Park. With about twenty-five million visitors annually, Central Park is the most visited city park in the United States, and its appearance in many movies and television shows has made it famous.
The park is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy, a private, not-for-profit organization that manages the park under a contract with the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, in which the president of the Conservancy is ex officio Administrator of Central Park.
Central Park is bordered on the north by West 110th Street, on the south by West 59th Street, on the west by Eighth Avenue. Along the park’s borders however, these are known as Central Park North, Central Park South, and Central Park West respectively. Fifth Avenue retains its name along the eastern border of the park. Most of the areas immediately adjacent to the park are known for impressive buildings and valuable real estate.
The park was designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted and architect Calvert Vaux, who went on to collaborate on Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Central Park has been a National Historic Landmark since 1963.
The Pond looking south
While much of the park looks natural, it is in fact almost entirely landscaped. It contains several natural-looking lakes and ponds, extensive walking tracks, bridle paths, two ice-skating rinks one of which is a swimming pool in July and August, the Central Park Zoo, the Central Park Conservatory Garden, a wildlife sanctuary, a large area of natural woods, a 106-acre (43 ha) billion gallon reservoir with an encircling running track, and an outdoor amphitheater called the Delacorte Theater which hosts the “Shakespeare in the Park” summer festivals. Indoor attractions include Belvedere Castle with its nature center, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the historic Carousel. In addition there are numerous major and minor grassy areas, some of which are used for informal or team sports, some are set aside as quiet areas, and there are a number of enclosed playgrounds for children.
The Mall & Literary Walk
The park has its own wildlife and also serves as an oasis for migrating birds, especially in the fall and the spring, making it a significant attraction for bird watchers; 200 species of birds are regularly seen. The 6 miles (10 km) of drives within the park are used by joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders (mostly longboards), and inline skaters, especially on weekends, and in the evenings after 7:00 p.m., when automobile traffic is banned.
The real-estate value of Central Park was estimated, by property-appraisal firm Miller Samuel, to be $528,783,552,000 in December 2005.