THE HISTORY Central Park is a public park at the center of Manhattan in New York City, United States. The park is opened in 1857. In 1858, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux won a design competition to improve and expand the park with a plan they entitled the Greensward Plan. Construction began the same year, did continue during the American Civil War, and was completed in 1873. The park is currently managed by the Central Park Conservancy under contract with the city government. The Conservancy is a nonprofit organization that contributes 85% of Central Park's $37.4 million dollar annual budget, and employs 80% of the park's maintenance staff.
The park, which receives approximately thirty-five million visitors every years, is the most visited urban park in the United States. It is 2.5 miles (4 km) long between 59th Street (Central Park South) and 110th Street (Central Park North), and is 0.5 miles (0.8 km) wide between Fifth Avenue and Central Park West. It is similar in size to San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, Vancouver's Stanley Park, and Munich's Englischer Garden.
LANDSCAPING AND FACILITIES It is almost entirely landscaped. The park contains several lakes and ponds that have been created artificially, 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, the Delacorte Theater, which hosts the "Shakespeare in the Park" summer festivals. The attractions include Belvedere Castle with its nature center, the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theatre, and the historic Carousel. In addition there are seven major lawns, and many minor grassy areas; some of them are used for informal or team sports and some set aside as quiet areas; there are a number of enclosed playgrounds for children. The six miles (10 km) of drives within the park are used by joggers, bicyclists, skateboarders, and inline skaters, especially when automobile traffic is prohibited, on weekends and in the evenings after 7:00 pm.
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