Wasteland to wonderlandBoulders mired in dismal swamps, plains of lifeless dust. Land farmers couldn't farm on, builders couldn't build on. Then, starting in 1858, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Olmsted worked a plan that conjured, from a narrow wasteland, a sprawling wonderland. What now appears so natural these two shaped, yard by yard, without electricity, diesel power or dynamite. It took tens of thousands of men and horses—and tons of munitions left over from the Civil War.
You'll see what was part of the 1858 Greensward Plan and what's been built since. Vaux's Victorian bridges and buildings. Jacob Wrey Mould's intricate ornamental carving, which reaches a climax at Bethesda Terrace. The bandshell added to the Mall in 1926, the Rink and Carousel added around 1950. Visit the sole statue envisioned in the Plan, and some of the best (and worst) of the rest. We'll trace
- Park stewardship from Olmsted to today's Central Park Conservancy.
- Park policing from Victorian-era sparrow cops to today
- The connection between The Dairy—which did briefly provide milk, straight from the cow—and a crisis in the City's milk supply
- John Wilkes Booth's connection with the Shakespeare statue at the start of Poet's Walk
- The difficult birth and long life of the Delacorte Theatre and its free Shakespeare Festival; the stars born on that stage.
You'll end this 2½ hour walk knowing the layout of the lower park and the Park's role in City history.