One of New York City’s most popular attractions is about to become pedestrian only. Public vehicles are to be banned in Central Park starting this summer.
Central Park is one of the most famous urban green spaces and spans over 840 acres of green meadows, walkways, and gardens. It is also home to the Central Park Zoo, the ornate Bethesda Fountain, an outdoor theatre, a lake, and a memorial to John Lennon. The park sees an excess of 42 million visitors annually. The Central Park Conservancy, NYC Parks, and the NYC Department of Transportation have all been trying for decades to reduce traffic.
The park was created in the 1860s and 1870s by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. They intended it to be a shared open green space for all New Yorkers; a place where “quiet drives, rides, and strolls may be had.”
Chief Operating Officer for the Central Park Conservancy, Christopher Nolan, believes that “You come to the park to escape the city. By letting the cars in, you perforate the edge of the park and let the city in.”
A Car-Free Central Park
Starting on 27 June, the day after public schools close, the park will become a no-go zone for cars. However, the important east-west roads at 97th, 86th, 79th and 65th Streets will not be affected by these new rules. At present, cars have limited access below 72nd Street during specific hours.
During the announcement made on Friday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said that “This park was not built for automobiles; it was built for people.”
The ban expands upon a 2015 restriction which limits access to the loop drives towards the north of Central Park. This stretches from 59th street in Midtown Manhattan to 100th street.
According to Mr. de Blasio, “Our parks are for people, not cars. For more than a century, cars have turned parts of the world’s most iconic park into a highway. Today we take it back. We are prioritizing the safety and the health of the millions of parents, children and visitors who flock to Central Park.”