Despite Central Park’s reputation for being both large and famous, it is fairly small in size. Its reputation as a sprawling landscape is aided by its location in New York, which lacks in greenery in almost every other part of the city. Though when scaled against other parks this one is small, there is an endless supply of things to go there. But how big is Central Park?
A Brief History
Central Park was first conceived of in the mid 19th century as a way to protect over 750 acres of land, a process that would also have substantial health benefits for New Yorkers. The park soon become known as Central Park for its location in the center of Manhattan.
The sweeping landscape of the park is due to the work of two men, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. After winning a competition, they were given the rights to designed the area. They hoped to combine large pastoral scenes juxtaposed with small woodland areas. The result was a multitude of landscapes swept together into the park we know today.
Though popular when it first came into being, the excitement around Central Park steadily declined over the following decades. It existed in a state of disrepair for many years. There were some revitalization efforts in the mid 20th century to bring back life to the park. However, there was no long term plan for maintaining the park, so it stayed in disarray.
It was not until the 1970s that long lasting revitalization efforts took place. This happened in part due to citizen activism for the park. Today it remains well taken care of, with roughly 42 million visitors every year.
(source: Central Park Conservatory)
Does Size Matter
According to google, Central Park is 1.317 square miles, or 2.5 miles long but .5 mile wide. It starts at 59th St and stretches its way up to 110th St. The National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) states the the average size for a park in the United States is 9.5 acres for every thousand residents. Comparatively Central Park is 842.6 acres. It could be a medium sized park or (roughly) 88,000 people, but New York is a city of millions. Though it seems huge, for NYC’s population, it’s a fairly small park.
What About Other Cities?
Now that we have answered the question “How big is Central Park?” we need to look at the parks of other cities. And other city parks are huge.
The largest city park, according to the world atlas, is Chugach State Park in Alaska. When we expand our searches out of cities to all parks, we see the top five largest national parks (Central Park is not a national Park) are in Alaska. This may be an unfair comparison given that much of Alaska is an icy tundra. But even in the mainland, other locations have much larger parks than New York City.
Even when comparing the size of Central Park to other major cities, it is tiny. San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park stretches 1.583 square miles. While the extra .2 square miles doesn’t seem like a lot, the difference becomes exponential when considering the difference in population size. There are less than 1 million people in San Francisco, compared to New York’s 8 million.
Things to Do
In those fifty-one blocks there are museums such as the MET, numerous lakes and ponds, and several national monuments. It would take you over an hour to walk the length of the park, a journey which is made much faster by using a horse and carriage to take a fun winter ride.
If you are worried about being alone in the park, check out are article on how Central Park is getting safer. Go for a walk in the park, or a boat ride with a loved one. Central Park is perfect whether you are broke or rolling in cash. Though it may be small compared to other parks, there’s no shortage of activities.