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Definition: Central Park from Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary

Municipal park, cen. Manhattan I., New York City; 840 acres (340 hectares); provides the setting for a wide variety of recreational activities.

Summary Article: Central Park
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Extensive urban park in Manhattan, New York City. Stretching from 59th to 110th St, and from Fifth Avenue to Central Park West (Eighth Avenue), it covers an area of 3.4 sq km/1.3 sq mi. It was conceived in the 1840s as a green space for rest and relaxation to alleviate the effects of urbanization in the rapidly expanding city, and officially opened in 1876. The park contains sunken transverse roads, lakes and ponds, ice-skating rinks, a zoo, and various open spaces, such as the Sheep Meadow and the Great Lawn, regularly used for public events. It is enjoyed as recreational space by New Yorkers and visitors to the city, but gained an unenviable reputation in the 1970s and 1980s as the scene of violent muggings, particularly at night.

Central Park was the brainchild of the editor William Cullen Bryant and the architect Andrew Jackson Downing. The final design, by the landscape architects Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, was chosen from over 30 submissions to a public competition. With its imaginative use of terrain and vegetation, it set the standard for urban parks in North America. When work began on artificial landscaping, it involved clearance of a largely derelict site (bought with a grant of $5 million by the state legislature), the importing of thousands of tons of topsoil, and the planting of millions of shrubs and trees. Among Central Park's many sites of interest are the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Delacorte Theater, where open-air productions of Shakespeare are performed, and Strawberry Fields, a memorial to the British singer John Lennon, who lived nearby and was murdered in 1980.

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