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Andropogon Associates) Ltd. E(OI(l,~i{(1f PlmllliI1<~ ['1 D('S(~ll

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Reconstruction of the North Meadow of Central Parl<

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Summary Report of Existing Conditions & Site Analysis Reconstruction of the North Meadow of Central Park

Capital Project #11- M-10-187 Submitted to City of New York Department of Parks & Recreation

By Andropogon Associates, Ltd. 374 Shurs Lane Philadelphia PA 19128 Project Director: Colin Franklin; Project Manager: Jose Almifiana; Project Staff: Erik Karlsson, Mitra Noorani, Marita Roos, Leslie Sauer, Rolf Sauer

December 1989


Summary Report of Existing Conditions & Site Analysis Reconstruction of the North Meadow of Central Park Contents Project Description Project Findings & Recommendations Existing Conditions Vegetation Soils Qualitative Hydrologic Study

1 2

4 14 21

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Prepared by Joseph P. Martin, Ph.D., P.E.

Key Informant Sun1ey

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Historical Report Prepared by Owen T. Robbins

I. Original Site Conditions - Pre 1858 1 II. The Greensward Plan - 1858 to 1864 4 III. Growth and Change - 1864 to 1934 13 IV. Robert Moses Era - 1934 to 1960 32 V. Post-Moses Period - 1960 to Present 36 VI. Conclusions and Recommendations 40 VII. Bibliography 43 VIII. Figures 46 (36 pages) Appendix A: Trees & Shrubs of Central Park (7 pages)


Figures 1. North Meadow 1857 2. North Meadow 1873 3. North Meadow 1934 4. North Meadow 1989 5. Existing Conditions 6. Vegetation 1873/1989 7. Vegetation 8. Soils 9. North Meadow Drainage 1934 10. North Meadow Drainage 1857 11. North Meadow Drainage 1989 12. Conceptual Variations in Runoff Hydrographs 13. Effect of Swale Filling on Soil Drainage 14. Proposed Swale - Traffic Area Soil Restoration - Subdrainage 15. Conceptual Drum/Intercept/Support for Bridle Path

5 6 8 10 11 15 20 28 31 32 34 35 37 41 42

Note: Section VIII (page 46) of the Historical Report includes a listing of historical figures followed by the figures.


Project Description The purpose of this project is "to restore a well used but deteriorated sports landscape and to recapture the historic intent of the largest open space in Central Park, including correcting existing problems of senescent plantings, hydrology and poor drainage." The scope of services for this project is divided in two parts: Part One is the Conceptual Plan for the overall project area; Part Two is the Contract Documents for the Phase I Reconstruction Area. This report is submitted as part of the Part One Conceptual Master Plan. It includes a summary of the existing condi tions and si te anal ySis, historical research, soil testing results, and a summary of the issues reviewed during the key informant survey interview process. The project area is bounded by East and West Drives, 97th Street Transverse and 102nd Street Transverse. It does not include the Springbanks Arch. The total contract area is 51.52 acres. \Nithin this acreage approximately 20 acres are open meadow largely occupied by twelve permanent ballfields (7 hardball and:; softball). The remaining 31 acres are mostly wooded and include the 0-'orth ~1eado\\' Center and adjacent handball and paddleball courts, a collection of pedestrian paths representative of the transformations suffered bv the park, and a section of the Bridle Trail Loop.

Central Park North Meadow 1


Project Findings and Recommendations This phase of the project has confirmed most of tJ1e main assumptions made in

Rebuilding Central Park: A Management and Restoration Plan (New York: Central Park Conservancy, 1985), which outlined a program for renovating the North Meadow that was the basis for this project. This phase has also broadened our understanding of the causes of the problems being experienced and suggests directions for solving them. The site investigations and interviews, which together form the the principal work of this phase, have revealed a common theme of interconnection. Each of the major issues relating to this site has significant relationships to other park-wide and/or ci ty-wide problems. This does not mean that the problems of the :\'orth ,,1eadow cannot be soh'eel, but rather that the research has been a catalyst for addressing broader issues. The proposals recommended here will, we hope, not only solve the specific problems of this important area of the park, but also provide viable models for future reconstruction projects. The North Meadow is a deteriorated site, but not a destroyed one, The basic fabric of the park is there, but it has been stressed by neglect and overuse. The most severe problems have their underlying causes in poor design choices made in the past. Of the issues most frequently mentioned, poor drainage is a perfect example of both the connection to broader problems of the park and to inappropriate design. When the last major work was done on the .'.'\orth "ieado\\' in the mid 1950s, the area was filled and levelled, and an internal piped drainage system constructed. In an attempt to squeeze as many ballfields into the space as possible, little attention was paid to the basics of good playing field design. Improperly graded and drained fields have caused severe maintenance problems. Poor quality fill material has prevented good soil drainage, and the piped stormwater has exacerbated erosion and sedimentation problems off-site in the Loch and \1eer to the north. These were mistakes of expediency that Olmsted would not have made. It is significant that very little respect was shown for the genius of Olmsted's originill design at the time that this work was done.

This report recommends that in the rcdcsisn of the fields, proper grading should be done for each field, and that the natural surface drainage of the stormwater should be restored. Because it would be impractical to replace al! the soil in the area, surface drainage could be supplemented by subsurface drainage at critical points, and extensive soil amendment done to improl'e overall infiltration. The programmatic issues have required the 7710;;/ extensive discussion. Again, this issue has proved to be intimately connected with wider problems. Lack of recreational space in the city as a whole Pllts tremendous pressure on Central Park. 11 is the conclusion of this study, however, that the North Meadow is strictly limited in the amount of active recreational facilities that it can accommodate without being destroyed. Therefore, it is recommended that while the bulk of the current facilities should be retained, the character and emphasis of the recreation should be changed. Principally, it is recommended that the meadow be more flexible in its overall uses. To achieve this and other ends, such as improved safety, it is suggested that hardball Central Park North Meadow

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be removed from the North Meadow and replaced with }}lore softball fields, Ilnd fhat other areas be provided where more numerous and diucrse Ilctivities can take place on a seasonal basis. Safety has been a particular concern as more renovation is done, and more people are encouraged to use the park. There has been close cooperation with the Citizen's Task Force on the Use & Security of Central Park. There are specific design implications stemming from their work that can be incorporated into the reconstruction of the North Meadow. Some of the suggestions are to increase the amoun t and diversity of acti vi ty, and in trod uce a reas VI' here more flexible programming is possible. Thirty acres of park, including woodland, parkland (that is, trees in grass), paths, the bridle trail, and the North !l1eadow Center make up the remainder of the project area outside of the twenty acres of open meadow. Poor drainage of the bridle trail has been the main reason for its deterioration. In many places, the trail 11as been worn down below the surounding land and has become a de-facto swale. The trail should be reconstructed with special attention to the drainage and concepts are included in this report. Some redesign of the path system should also be undertaken in connection with the redesign of the fields, and care should be taken to relate new paths to the original character of the Olmsted layout. The vegetation of the "Torth Meadow has problems in common "'ith the vegetation of the entire park. Many trees are old or senescent and will require replacement, and management is required to control invasive plant species. Olmsted took great care with the design of the edges of the v,""odlands surrounding the meadow to create the impression of a much larger area. Much of the sublety of this design has been lost, particularly with the installation of ball fields with fences and the straight paths associated with them. Attention should be paid to the restoration of this aspect of the design, with new groves and infill planting. There is an ongoing study of the woodlands of Central Park, the recommendations Irom \\'hich will be pertinent to the woodland areas of the North Meadow. Many people have participated in this phase of the North Meadow Reconstruction Project and we are grateful for the unstinting help and assistance that was given to us at all times. The degree of participation by all concerned in the welfare of Central Park gives us confidence that this report will form a sound basis for the ultimate design.

Central Park North Meadow

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Existing Conditions Although the current conditions of the :\'orth Meadow are far from Olmsted's orioinal ideas for this area of the park, the North Meadow has not been drastically alt~red since its construction. Being the largest open space of Central Park, the North Meadow has been the target of several plans that would have completely transformed it. Unsuccessful attempts were made to build the CentJ'iil Park Zoo in 1870 and a World's Fair in 1881 and 1889. From its original conception, the North Meadow played a very important role in the development of the 1858 Greensward Plan of Olmsted and Vaux. \1eadows, being open spaces capable of being transformed into pastoral scenes, became the park's most important influences. Everything else in the Greensward Plan worked around and with the meadow spaces. The :\'orth Meadow was developed from an upland swamp area comprised of two plateaus defined by outcrops and rocky ledges and drained by a small stream and major swale [see Fig. 1]. Respecting this natural structure, the \,'orth Meadow was orginally organized in two halves: the East \1eadow and the West \Jeadow [see Fig. 2]. The circula tion system was loca ted along the peri phC'ry of the si Ie ",i thou t crossing the open meadow areas. This circulation system took advantage of the topographic changes created by the rock outcrops at the meadow edges. The bridle trail appears to have been next to the carriage drives along the northern and western edges. Pedestrian paths wove in and out through the rock outcrops and wooded areas. The eXisting vegetation was thinned out to achieve a loose and rather transparent meadow boundary. This vegetation management was consistent with the original design intent for the North \1eadow \\'hich WJS to provide a 'Iimitless greenward'. In addition, groves of new trees were planted into the meadow areas to further undifferentiate the meadow edges. In order to give the feeling of a limitless space, principal vistas were viewed through layers of vegetation to enhance the perceived spatial depth. One of these vegetation layers was a central grove located on a slight topographic rise at the pivotal point of the east and west meadow. The longest vistas from either side of the meadows were filtered by this central grove. Although no records of actual grading plans circa 1873 of the North Meadow are available, in 1915 Samuel Parsons described the North !l1eadow as being an area where "there was not a level spot to all appearances". After all regrading and construction was completed, the North Meadow was drained by means of catch basins accompanying paths and trails, sewers, tile fields, and open grassy swales (a survey drawing circa 1915 illustrates most of these elements). Most of the North Meadow is contained within the Pool and the Loch watersheds. Only a sm~ll section of the East Meadow drains into a sewer line that runs along 5th Avenue.

Central Park North Meadow

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North Meadow 1857

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North Meadow 1873

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The original intended use of the North Meadow area was one for "scenic refreshment" and "activities that interfered with the quiet contemplation of serenity will have to be excluded, or the process by which scenery acted on the viewer most deeply could not opera te." With this objective, the North Meadow did not host any buildings, other structures, formal plantings, or architectural effects that would detract from experiencing a 'pastoral scenery' of which the predominant quality would be rural and, in some parts, even wild in character. Although the site of the North Meadow was of little importance before the development of the Greensward Plan in the late 18505; it served as an invaluable inspiration for the designers toward the fulfillment of their major goal of the plan -to provide open pastoral spaces. The site chosen for the construction of Centr"l Park was largely comprised of rock outcrops, streams, and in places, abrupt topography. The few areas that were able to be transformed into broad open spaces of gentle rolling topography became the main components of the Greensward Plan. Consequently, the rest of the spaces in the park were subordinated to these broad open spaces. Since very fel'v open and relatively flat large meadow areas were ayailable within the Greensward Plan, pressures from some groups to allow organized sports, such as baseball, began even as the park w"s being built. Tennis playing on the North Meadow became very popular around the turn of the century. /\5 the park matured, the North Meadow began suffering from the transformations of such pressures. In 1908, the Farm Building was built on the highest area of the North !l1eadow and is accessible from 97th Street. Substantial changes in the vegetation associated with the increased use of the open meadows modified Olmsted's intended perception of the North !l1eadow. No longer was the meadow clearly divided in two halves. One meadow flowed from southwest to northeast without vegetation in the middleground. TIle perceived size of this space became simpler and much smaller. The ground plane was no longer hidden in the vista and the vegetated edges were thinned out to make more room for playing fields. A 1934 survey drawing shows the path system at the edges of the meadow. The bridle trail was separated from the drives by areas planted with trees and turf. Due to heavy use of the meadow areas as playgrounds, the rolling topography was flattened and additional inlets were installed in the turf areas. A concession stand at the northeast corner of the former west meadow and a comfort station next to the path that parallels the 97th Street transverse were built [see Fig. 3). Late in the 1920s, plans were drawn up for permanent ballfields to be installed on the North Meadow. They were constructed in tIle mid 1930s, after Robert Moses became Park Commissioner. A cloverleaf design placed them squarely in the middle of the meadows where the ground was most level. At this time up to 12 permanent ballfields became available in the North Meadow.

Central Park North Meadow

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-Jorth Meadow 1934

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Despite the intrusion of permanent backstops and ballfields presented in the 1935 survey, the North Meadow still maintained the perception of one open meadow area flowing into another. More drastic transformations were implemented in the North Meadow in the mid 19505. The position of the ballfields was altered, placing largely individual fields closer to the perimeter of the open spaces. The central area of the meadow became free of backstops, but cyclone fencing enclosing the ball fields was installed crossing the open meadow areas. The cyclone fencing not only made it impossible to see any vestige of the original verdant pastures, but also fragmented the open meadow in several smaller corral-like spaces [see Fig. 4). Today, the presence of the ballfields in tlle North l\1eadow precludes any passive recreation activity from taking place in the open meadows. The current layout of the ballfields, which required extensive regrading and flattening of the meadow areas substantially transformed the drainage pattern of the North Meadow. Ballfield # 6 was built at the lowest meadow elevation. As much as two feet of fill soil was placed on top of what used to be the overland outlet for stormwater of about three quarters of the open meadow area. This siting decision implied the total reliance on a system of catch basins and pipes for the drainage of the turf areas and ballfie1ds [see Fig. 5). Although the present layout of ballfields is it \',lst imprcwement over the cloverleaf arrangement, the implemented drainage solution tends to concentrate runoff water into inlets in the outfield areas where hea\'y use takes place. Football, soccer, rugby, and other pick-up games take place on the open Meas between the ba1lfields and wear down the few left over green areas of turf. Turf problems are compounded because the use of the fields is not regulated by weather conditions and games are played after rainstorms. As a result of indiscriminate use of the fields, the soils are compacted, water infiltration is impaired and the once green expanses of grass fields become mud pools without any vegetative cover. Extensive bare areas can be observed by the end of the summer months and throughout the fall season; subsequent erosion of these bare areas and transportation of eroded soil by storm water fill catch basins and clog drainage pipes. At best, if the inlets and pipes do work, once the inlet silt traps fill up, the transported soils result in the sedimentation of the Loch and, eventually, the Harlem Meer. The 1950s ballfield layout included the construction of more than 4,000 linear feet of concrete and asphalt paths, thus, increasing the amount of impervious areas and stormwater runoff. Along with new paths, outfield lights and concrete bleachers, which house related electrical transformers, were constructed at ballfield #2. According to park personnel, the outfield lights have not operated for more than two years. One of these light standards has already been removed. The location of the outfield lights, given the proximity and outfield overlap of opposing ballfields, makes it difficult and rather unsafe to use ballfieJds #1 and #2. Despite a path system of more than three miles in length, access to the ballfields and meadow areas within the North Meadow area is not adequate for proper maintenance. The lack of a coherent path system also results in the creation of desired Central Park North Meadow

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North Meadow 1989 ' . Vegetation

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Figure 4. North Meadow 1989


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Central Park North Meadow

EXISTING CONDITIONS 11


pathway lines, especially when approaching the North Meadow area from other sections of the park. Desired paths are common and usually lead to drinking fountains.some paths cross the meadow, causing maintenance trucks to sometimes drive on turf areas. Vehicular access into the North Meadow occurs by crossing the bridle trail from the East Drive without any type of physical barrier. Consequently, uncontrolled vehicular access to the North Meadow area takes place unless park ranGers or park enforcement police prevent it. The turning radius of most path inte~sections in the North Meadow area is not large enough to accommodate maintenance or emergency vehicles. This condition results in unnecessary trampling and destruction of turf areas next to the paths. The resulting exposed soil areas are washed away in rainstorms and silt up drainage inlets. In conjunction with these maintenance problems, the current path layout is also not in keeping with the characteristic curvilinear alignment oi Olmsted's design as seen throughout Central Park. As part of the amenities included in Olmsted's Greensward Plan, the northern loop of the bridle trail system ocurrs at the periphery of the North ~1eadow. Its original construction of a soit cinder surface layer over a stone base has suffered years of use and little maintenance. As the cinder surface wore down, the bridle trail became lower than the adjacent ground, and now effectively acts as a swale. Since much of the drainage system associated with this trail is not in working condition, runoff water is collected in the trail, where severe erosion, siltation, and clogging of the few inlets that do function contribute to the detriment of this recreational resource. Today, about 50,000 rides per year take place on the bridle trail system of Central Park, but exposed rocks and severe gullies make it rather unsafe. Horseback riders also have to contend with occasional joggers that take advantage of whatever soft surface is available as demand for usable space in Central Park increases. Built in 1908, the former Farm Building was converted into a recreation building in the 1930s, mainly for senior citizens. Currently this building is known as the North Meadow Center and it accommodates a more diverse group of users. The North Meadow Center building is organized in two halves. The west half is occupied by the Central Park Soils Program ofiice and lab, a storage area for park maintenance, part of which used to be a concession area three years ago, a ladies locker room and restrooms, a nursery/day care center, and a play room for senior citizens. The east half of the North Meadow Center is entirely occupied by the park rangers headquarters and the park enforcement police with the exception of an area occupied by men's public restrooms. On the north side of the North Meadow Center, there are 10 paddlebaJl courts, two handball courts, and two horseshoe courts. Little maintenance seems to account for the current status of these facilities. Walls and pavement surfaces are very uneven, therefore less than half of the courts are presently being used. Judging from the grass height, the horseshoe courts do not seem to be used at all. The entire outdoor area is enclosed by a 16-foot-high cyclone fence that effectively isolates the north side of the building from the surrounding park areas. Although it gives paddleball and handball players a sense of property and domain over the area occupied by their courts, this fence strengthens the awkward presence of the building in the park. Moreover, it also Central Park North Meadow

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precludes any possible integration of the North Meadow Center with the rest of the landscape. A parking area for park ranger vehicles and a play area for the day care center share an asphalted courtyard located on the south side of the North Meadow Center. This entrance courtyard is defined by a stone \vall with an iron fence on top. Although a vast improvement from the cyclone fence, this stone wall in its present condition does not enhance the setting of the building. As vehicular access to the building occurs from 97th Street, the path intersections show badly trampled turf areas on eitller side of the path. Additional damage to the turf areas occurs due to parking of park ranger and park enforcement police, as well as private vehicles, along the stone wall and adjacent paths.

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Vegetation Of all of Central Park's open spaces the 19-acre North Meadow is the largest. The plantings and land forms of Central Park were laid out by Olmsted to create a sense that the park landscape of meadows and woodlands were endless. The park was to function as an oasis within the city and to erase, in the mind of the visitor, the sense of the city with its strict, flat grid of streets and buildings which vvas just beyond the park boundaries. The plantings laid out by Olmsted were integral to the establishment of this illusion. By making spatial borders as indistinct as possible and leaving the extent of vistas up to the viev,er's imagination, a seemingly endless landscape of unbroken, sweeping meadows and woodlands and rolling rocky outcrops was created. To achieve this illusion of an endless landscape of vistas and meadows and wooded groves within the limited space of the park and the even more limited North Meadow area, Olmsted used a design methodology reminiscen t of the rural English landscapes he had seen in Europe years before. He blurred the boundaries between the woodlands and meadow by creating an undulating edge allowing the turf to flow into small alcoves off the main meadow space. The depth of the alcove was left to the viewer's imagination. The meadow was given a rolling topography with groves of loosely arranged trees placed within the meadow and jutting out from the borders to frame vistas and create a sense that one space flowed into another partially viewed space of an unknown size. In addi tion, he opened views from the North Meadow to adjoining park spaces by selectively thinning the vegetative buffer of trees which surround the meadow. By making these borders as indistinct as possible the bOlTO\\'ed landscape of the adjoining park spaces would add to the sense of limitless landscape by making indistinguishable the boundary between the meadow and the rest of the park. To seclude the visi tor from the cross-park traffic, Olmsted depressed the park transverse roads making them invisible from inside the park. To screen the noise and pollution, a wide strip of shrubs and trees were planted along the edge of the roadways to buffer noise and smells. Olmsted used these principles to produce the illusion of a landscape of unlimited extent within the confined space of Central Park. Olmsted chose a wide variety of trees and shrubs for planting within the park. In the North Meadow area, many exotic varieties were added to a backbone of existing vegetation to form the border of the meadows. In many places, indigenous trees were limbed up to about eight feet to produce the character of a street tree. The limbing up allows for walking under the trees and enhances the quality, which Olmsted wanted, of tall, spreading trees and turf (the park-like quality). Trees treated in this way also cast interesting shadows across the open meadow spaces. Olmsted also added plantings of evergreen trees to the western edge of the North Meadow. Planted along what was called the Winter Drive (the I,Vest Drive today), they

Central Park North Mcadow

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Vegetation 1873/1989

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enriched the experience of the drive in the winter with color and shadows cast acrosS the rolling, sometimes snow covered meadow.

North Meadow Vegetation Today Much of Olmsted's original design intent for the North Meadow has been obliterated by changes the area has undergone to date. The vegetation is a prime example of this. The current vegetation of the North Meadow can be grouped into three distinct categories: turf areas, comprising the central meadow; groves and specimen trees in mowed grass, occurring at tile edge of the area dominated by athletic fields; and surrounding the meadow, relatively dense woodlands of mature canopy trees and successional edge species. Tile overall impression one has of the North Meadow is of a large, ilat grassed athletic iield surrounded by a dense green woodland on low, rolling ridges and rocky knolls. A few remaining groves of canopy trees, some with under plantings of shrubs and smaller trees, occur along the edge of the wooded perimeter. The current use of this space as athletic fields, specifically baseball and softball with chainlink fences and skinned infield areas, has greatly diminished the original design intent of a sweeping, flowing, green meadow. The loose groves and undulating woodland edges and alcoves, which were once characteristic of the meadow, have disappeared, ha\'ing either been removed to make room for athletic fields or engulfed by the more aggressive tree species when proper management practices were sacrificed to budget cuts in the 1970s. The meadow (lavvn) area of the 1\'orth Meadow was designed by Olmsted to be much more rolling than it is today. In the early part of this century, this rolling landscape was levelled for use as athletic iields (first for lawn tennis; later for baseball and softball). Presently, the open lawn areas are very heavily used as athletic fields for baseball, softball, soccer, and football. As a result, large areas have developed where turf has been replaced by weed species, which can survive the high traffic and compacted soils. The most common of these is prostrate knotweed (Polygol1um al1iculal'e). The "sheen of the grass" described by Parson in 1891 is no longer in evidence today. Otller areas where weeds have replaced grass occur at junctions of existing paths and along desire-line paths. In addition to weeds replacing turf, bare patches have developed along paths and in the lawn where traffic and athletic activity is the heaviest. The bare patches in the lawn are found primarily where soccer and football are played. Outside of these areas, the turf is in generally good condition, although soil tests indicate low levels of macro-nutrients (NPK, see soils section). The turf at the North Meadow is not regularly fertilized. The meadows, groves, and more open parts of the woodland are mowed every third week during the growing season and the skinned areas in the ball diamonds are edged once a season.

Central Park North Mcadow

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The groves which remain in the North Meadow today are much less distinct than Olmsted originally intended and nwst no longer exist. They have merged with the woodlands surrounding the meadow and in doing so contributed to the problem of a wall of vegetation. In addition, some groves have been partially or wholly removed to allow for athletic fields. The central grove which once separated the two halves of the meadow has been removed for this purpose. This grove was important to the overall design in two ways. First, it divided the vast meadow so as to create the flO\ving of spaces and, second, it framed and added depth and definition to the major cross meadow views seen from the West and East Drive entrances to the meadow. The groves of canopy trees that remain consist primarily of sycamore (Platal111s occidel1 talis); American basswood (Tilil1 amcrical1a); American elm (U 111711 5 americal1a); tulip poplar (Liriodcl1drol1 tulipifera); and sugar maple (Acer saccharum). The ground plane is mO\,'n turf. Some groves have underplanting of privet (Lig1lstr1l11 col/lgorc) and honeysuckle (Lolliccra tal'tl1rica). lJnderstory trees occur within some groves, such as hackberry (Celtis occidentali,), hawthorn (Crataeg1ls spp.). The condition of the trees and t~rf in these groves is generally \'ery good. The shrubs appear to be health\" but most have become overgrown. The understory trees are generally in good condition. The woods surrounding the North ?l1eadow today are smaller in area than what was originally planted, however, they seem greater in size. The woodlands seem more massive and even larger, because they form a wall of vegetation that surrounds the meadow; dense and thick with almost no visual depth. \,\lhen the meadow is viewed, one no longer has the sense of a dissolving spatial border created by the undulating edge and loose gro\'es; this has disappeared along with the sense of flowing spaces. In effect, the woods ha\'e become too real, too much there, and have therefore enclosed the spaces, effectively halting the intended sense of spatial movement and flowing that gave the park its expansive feel. So while there is less woodland area in the North Meadow today \'ersus what was originally planted, ironically, there is also a sense of less open meadow space because the remaining woods are so looming and massi\'e, closed and edged. The wooded areas of the North Meadow today are located on the ridges and rocky knolls which surround the central meadow. The predominant canopy species are red oak (Querws rubl'a), red maple (AcC)' 1'1I171'um), elm, basswood, and black locust (Robillia pseudoacacia), and black cherry (PnUlus sCI'otil1a). Black cherry, which is usually associated with edges and woody old fields, has become a major part of the canopy along the 102nd Street transverse. This species, along with several others (American elm, pin oak, black locust, etc. [E. Barlow; 1985]), has become predominant in the park in recent years because it produces a large number of seedlings that usually sprout around rocks and benches and other places which are hard to get to with today's large mowers. These saplings grow up to obscure many of the park's rock outcrops and take over the smaller open spaces as maintenance is withdrawn in the face of their growth. This has occurred to some extent in the

Central Park North Mcadow

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North Meadow. In some areas of the woods, an understory consisting of sapling trees and shrubs has developed. In these areas the ground layer consists of rough grass, which is mowed about five times during the growing season. The c~nditions of the woods is very good with the exception of some patches of the aggresslve black cherries. Especially notable is the condition of the elms which appear not to suffer from Dutch Elm Disease. Additional major canopy species are sycamore, tulip, poplar, and pin oak (Quercus pa/us/ris). Notable also is the lack of variety of understory tree species, both in the woods and grove areas. Olmsted's original plan specified a much greater variety of species both of trees and shrubs than remain today in the North 'I1eadow. /\ partial listing of these original species is contained in Appendix A of the Historical Report.

Reconunendations Edges 1. The current edge of the woods should be thinned with some trees judiciously removed to reestablish the undulating in-and-out pattern of the original design.

2. Groves should also be planted that pull the edge of the woods into the meadow with the intention of dissolving the current wall-like edge character. The new groves, the thinning out of the edge, and removals will help to recreate the How of spaces one into another and will enhance the long vistas across the meadow. 3. A variety of shrubs should be planted under selected groves and woodland edges to enhance vistas, and shrub banks should be added along the bridle trails.

Meadow 1. The open meadow should hJ\'e some new gro\'es planted which will reestablish spatial context and again define and enhance the longer cross meadow views. 2. Once renovation of the soil is complete (see soils section), the meadow should be reseeded v,'ith a mix of drought resistant grasses. The new drought-resistant varieties of fescue and rye should be used. As the turf in the North Meadow receives a great deal of heavy athletic use, these tough new grass varieties will survive longer under the stressed conditions.

Woodlands and Outer Edges 1. The first priority for the v.'oodlands is to manage the invasive species by removing them both in the woods and along the edges. Selected other trees should be removed to open the woods and reduce its massive appearance from the meadow by allowing light to penetrate the woodlands.

Central Park North Mcadow

18


2. In addition some limbing up is recommended to improve security by creating views under and through the trees. 3. The area of woods on the knoll in the northeast corner of the site should receive particular attention as the bridle trail passes behind the knoll under a canopy of trees. The vegetation in this area needs thinning and limbing up without destroying the effect of coming through a tunnel of trees and entering the open meadow space. 4. Along the West Drive, the evergreens, which once were there, should be replanted to reestablish the winter drive.

North Meadow Center 1. The North \1eadow Center building and handball courts should be screened to reduce their impact on the meadow. Screening with both shrubs and trees is recommended. 2. The handball courts area should be enhanced "'ith seating added and appropriate plantings to screen and shelter the courts from the pMk. 3. Presently the front of the \:orth Meadow C<?nter building is unsightly. The building in general should have plantings added to the entry and parking area.

97th Street Transverse Edge 1. The 97th Street transverse edge should be planted with a variety of understory trees and shrubs which will screen the transverse road from the park. The current vegetation along this edge is not in good shape and no longer performs its function of screening the park from the road.

Central Park North MClldow

19


LEGEND Canopy Trees

A AS AIL S BL BO C CO E G

H HC HL NM PO RM RO SM SYC TP W WP

Ash American basswood Ailanthus Beech Black locust Bur oak Black cherry Chestnut oak American elm Cinko Hickory Horse chestnut Honey locust Norway maple Pin oak ,Red maple Red oak Sugar maple Sycamore Tulip poplar Walnut White pine

Fraxinus americana Tilia americana Ailanthus altissima Fagus grandlfolia Robina psuedo-acacia Quercus macrocmpa Prunus sera tina Quercus pinus Wmus americana Cinko bilaba Carya tomentasa Aesculus hippocatanwn Cleditsia tl1CJlnthos Acer platanoides Quercus IJalusll1s

\"

,

.., J

"\

Acer rubnon

Quercus rut,,'a Acel' saccharum Platanus acenfolia Ul1odendron tulipifera Juglans nigra Pinus strobus

Understory Trees hb ht mo mul

sas

Hackberry Hawthorn Mock orange Mulberry Sassafras

Celtis occidentalis Crataegus spp, Phi/adelphus coronal1us Morus alba Sassafras albidum

Common privet Shrub honeysuckle Viburnum

Ugustrum vulgare Lanicera tatarica Viburnum spp.

Shrubs pr sh v

Invasives mb

Mexican bamboo

Polygonum cuspidatum '.;

Herbaceous Layer

.050100

20'

'"!

VEGETATIoN

~ Rough Crass Area Central Park North Meadow

Turf Figure 7. Vegetation

20


Soils "Soils are the basic and most important resources of any civilization. In Central Park, soils provide nutrition, support and water for plants. Differences in the park's soils such as slope, texture, drainage, pH, organic matter, chemical and mineralogical composition, rockiness, and erosion determine landscape varia tions. Central Park, an 843-acre green oasis of soils and lakes in the center of New York City, was a rocky and swampy tract of land until its development between 1857 and 1873. Infertile, wet and shallow soils were a limiting factor in the natural vegetative composition. The rock base is of 22-million-year-old Manhattan schist. In the development of the park, most of this rock base was covered when 10 million cubic yards of topsoil were moved from New Jersey and Long Island by horsecart. The rock outcrops that remain today were artfully left exposed by Olmsted and Vaux" (Weber, Olson & Lopez, 1984). "Soils have been recognized to be of extreme importance since the inception of the park. Olmsted knew that many of the soil problems (especially drainage) had to be corrected to construct the park. He noted that certian plants should be placed in certian soils in the proper manner" (\Veber, Olson & Lopez, 1984). The investigation of the current conditions of the soils of :'\'orth \1eadow is critical to establishment of good soil tilth and the promotion of maximum plant establishment and growth. The characteristics of the soils may also playa role in determining the appropriate stormwater management techniques to control runoff and erosion in the North Meadow. In the early 1980s the Central Park Conservancy commissioned Cornell University's Cooperative Extension Service to undertake a survey of tIle soils of Central Park (Weber, Olson, Lopez, 1984). Portions of that report and the Preliminary Report by the United States Soil Conservation Service with the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station appear in this section and the soils map of the North Meadow is from that report. In 1987 soil testing in the the North Meadow was undertaken by the Central Park Soils Laboratory to determine the fertility, structure, and pH of the soils in anticipation of the renovation of the North Meadow (see Lopiccolo, 1987). In addition, an investigation of the soil profiles via soil pits was completed as part of the inventory phase of the master plan for the North Meadow renovations (see LopiccolO-Yap, 1989). The pits were used to determine depth to bedrock, investigate soil horizons, and most importantly determine subsurface or groundwater levels and drainage characteristics. Three soil pits were dug along a line from a site high point near the East Drive through the low point in the meadow area to a site low point near Springsbank Arch (the lowest poin t on site). Thus a transect of soil horizons from high to low could be estabilished. Copies of the above reports included a t the end of this section.

Central Park North Mcadow

21


The soils map of the North !\1eadow indicates that there are two categories of soils found in the North Meadow: udorthents and dystrocrepts. Udorthents are part of the entisol soil order, defined as recent soils with only a slightly developed epipedon (horizons). They have a loamy or silty texture and extend over 75 to 80 percent of the site including the flatest parts of the meadow and side slopes. They are moderately to poorly drained and deep. Composed of a fill material of loam or sandy loam with moderate amounts of gravel or stone fragments. They also include pieces of brick, coal, glass, porcelain, and other trash debris, evidence that this is fill material brought in to raise the grade in this area when the park was built. The recent origin of this soil and the high water table in this area has allowed only slight horizontal development which is typical for entisols. The depth to bedrock is more than 40 inches, depth to seasonal high water table is over 30 inches, permeability is mOderately rapid to moderately slow, and can be slow where compaction is great (\Varner & Hanna, 1982, pp. 11 and 12). Aquic Udorthents are a silty soil found in the 100vest area of the open meadows. These soils are typically moderately well drained and formed in variable silty fill material; however, poor surface and subsurface drainage does occur in this soil and is particularly notable in the ~orth \1eadOlv's athletic fields. Here the water table is at the surface for at least several weeks of the year. Soil pit #2 which was dug in this area had water in the bottom. These soils are subject to compaction and deterioration of tilth when they aye \\'et and receive heavy fOllt or vehicular traffic. Because they are at the finer end of the scale and therefore subject to greater compaction (LoPiccolo-Yap, 1989). The result is less surface porosity and increased time that water is standing on the surface. This problem is exacerbated because the current grading does not allow all areas to drain to the existing inlets. During the drier periods of the year the water table is at 15-30 inches. The depth to bedrock is greater than 40 inches. Dystrocrepts are found on ridge tops, knolls, and side slopes of the low hills which surround the meadow. They cover 20 to 25 percent of the site and are moderately deep and well drained with a high silt content. The depth to bedrock varies between 20 and 40 inches. Depth to seasonal high water table is 30 inches. The vegetative cover is mostly grassy sod, varying from open lawn to areas with moderate tree cover. Dystrocrepts are part of the inceptisols soil order. Inceptisols are described as immature (embryonic) soils having weakly expressed profile features when compared to more mature soils. The inceptisols, however, are slightly more developed than the entisols. The dystrocrepts location on the rocky upland edges of the site indicates that these areas were not filled as much as in the open meadow and therefore the soils are older and more developed. In some areas there may even be original soil although these areas are probably small. From the soil pit information and the soil survey reports it can be concluded that the soils of the site have two horizons. A C-horizon of a variable fill material of a sandy loam texture, overlain by an A-horizon of dark grey sandy loam which is 3 to

Central Park North Meadow

22


5 inches thick. In some areas of the open meadow (balifields) water collects and remains on the surface during the wet season and after heavy rainstorms. This is caused by three factors: a sandy loam surface horizon, compacted by frequent use and vehicular traffic; a high water table for several weeks of the year; and insufficient arade to allow drainage of surface water to existing inlets. Ridge tops and side slopes ~re generally of the same loamy fill material overlain by a dark grey surface horizon. These areas do not receive as much traffic, therefore compaction is not a problem and their slope keeps standing water from occurring. The macro-nutrient levels were found to be low throughout the site, both in the tests done from the pit samples and from the study completed by the soils lab in 1987. This is typical for all soils in Central Park. The North Meadow lawn ilreas are not fertilized on a regular basis, therefore the low nutrient levels are to be expected in this case. There is a relatively high pl-I level for the soils in the athletic field area, and this may be the result of liming the ball diamonds. The pH of park soils overall tends to be acidic. One of the most important pieces of information to come from the reports is that the physical characteristics of the surface A-horizon is good.

Recommendations The soil reports have indicated that the soils of the "!orth \1eadow have good structure. However, they are lacking in both organiC matter and fertilizer. In addition the pH is low, a condition which is typical ior "Jl Central Park soils. 1. Organic matter should be incorporated into the soil wherever pOSSible and especially in the open meadow athletic areas. The organic amendment should have a high lignin content. Lignin has an extended life in the soil and will improve structure both before and after it decomposes by providing passages into the soil for both oxgyen and water. The best source of lignin is partiallly decomposed (composted) leaf litter which is available from the park composting facility. Other organic amendments, such as composted sewage sludge, are not recommended because they decompose too rapidly, often lasting less than a year in the soil. Peat moss tends to acidify the soil creating uniavorable conditions for turf grasses which prefer basic conditions.

2. In addition to the organic amendment, all renovated turf areas should have lime and fertilizer tilled into the 4 to 6 inches of soil. Lime will raise the soil pH to the range suitable for turf. The fertilizer should be high in nitrogen to supply the germinating grasses and to provide extra nitrogen cover that is lost due to organic matter decomposition (which is likely to be high in the first year). The amounts of fertilizers and lime to be added should be determined by soil testing just prior to application. 3. The soil renovation process should include tilling to 6 inches to reduce compaction.

Central Park North Meadow

23


4. The grading of the meadow should provide pOSltlve drainage for all areas including the athletic fields. Grading should insure that athletic fields will drain quickly after a storm, preferably in less than 20 minutes and that all other meadow areas can drain to inlets within half a day. Preventing standing water on the athletic fields will reduce the rate of soil compaction.

Lopiccolo, "North Meadow Soil Report," Central Park Soil Laboratory, 1987. Lopiccolo-Yap, "Report on the North

~1eado\\'

Soil Pits," Central Park Soil Lab()rator)" 1989.

Warner & Hanna, "Prcliminilr)' Report: S()i1 5un'e), of <>ntr,11 Park", L'nited Stilted Department of Agriculture, Soil Conscn',1tion Scrvicl' in cooperation \'\')Ih Cornell University l\gricultural E\perinient Station, 1982. Weber, Olson & Lopez, "Tour of SOils of Central P;nk in Extension Publication, Mise. Bulletin 132, 1984.

Central Park North Mcadow

,",CIV

York City," A Cornell Cooperative

24


Soil Pit # 1

~~--_-~_O"

HI'Xuth

i1~FI

2"

~_)L.''·_-,1_"

-+--_13"

A

Dark, grey, fine sandy loam; massive; fine roots evident; wavy boundary; finn when moist.

c

Reddish, brown, fine sandy loam; massive; few worm channels; friable when moist; few to common very fine roots; abrupt wavy boundary.

Ie

Vvhite loam; massive; common yellow mottles; few very fine roots; weathered schist fragments; wavy boundary with some gradation to material below.

lIe

Reddish brown, course sandy loam; massive; very friable 'when moist; some pinkish grey streaks.

~j

c;:,.

j'

Ie

o

0

-

Ci

o

•• ~ 0

, . lIe"' o ' '0

Central Park North Mcadow

25


Soil Pit # 2

A

Light, brown grey, fine sandy loam; massive; friable when moist; few very fine roots; compacted; somewhat rocky; abrupt boundary,

C

Dark, greyish, brown, fine sandy loam; orange red mottles; massive; friable when moist; few very fine roots, gradual boundary,

IC

Very dark greyish brown loam; few orange red mottles; massive; friable when moist; few very fine roots; wavy boundary,

lIC

Grey, fine sandy loam; many prominent mottles; massive; friable when moist; water present in bottom of pit.

'~~,:",:.:\' .' :;(~~~ . ';""

f-'-4-I-'"----'-路_:~:__;_iil_'_t_-18" '~

,

,"

;:':i:, \

. '1 ~:l IC ..'~.~, ' f - - - - - . . , - " ' - t - 2 3"

.lIC

Central Park North Mcadow

26


Soil Pit # 3 _~-----.-----.-,--O"

.k:~:·)Jti I·4····· f :A· ".Q J'l \'. ..:. '" i:::'

A

Light, brownish grey, sandy loam; few fine roots; few rocks; compacted; gradual irregular boundary.

C

Brown, sandy loam; few distinct mottles; massive; friable when moist; few fine and medium roots; rocky with brick shards; compacted; gradual irregular boundary.

1 •

~

·

. . . . : II:'

· Ii"

.·T

5"

.:. '. '. '

·.Y~.,.:0:.:~.: :,: .

.....

"

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.

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1-'-.:.--:-'----1- 29"

·

'.

[

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:'0

IC

Dark, yellowish, brown, fine sandy loam; massive; friable when moist; few fine and medium roots; rocks.

)·.·ri~

~.,

.

Central Park North MCildow

27


I

LEGEND Moderate to Poorly Drained Entisols: 5A 5C 5DE

Udorthents, loamy, 0 to 3% slopes Udorthents, loamy, 8 to 15% slopes Udorthents, loamy, 15 to 40% slopes

58

Udorthents, loamy skeletal, 0 to 2% slopes

7A

78

Udorthents, silty, 0 to 3% slopes Udorthents, Silty, 3 to 8% slopes

SA

Aquic Udorthents, silty, wet, 0 to 2% slopes

528 52C

Udorthents, loamy, moderately deep, 3 to 8% slopes Udorthents, loamy, moderately deep, 8 to 15% slopes

Moderately Well to Well Drained Inceptisols: 28 2C

Dystrochrepts, silty, 3 to 8% slopes Dystrochrepts, silty, 8 to 15% slopes

22A 228 22C

Dystrochrepts, silty, moderately deep, 0 to 3% slopes Dystrochrepts, silty, moderately deep, 3 to 8% slopes Dystrochrepts, Silty, moderately deep, 8 to 15% slopes

238

Dystrochrepts, silty, moderately deep, rocky, 3 to 8% slopes Dystrochrepts, silty, moderately deep, rocky, 8 to 15% slopes

23C

25C

Rock outcrop-Dystrochrepts, moderately deep, 8 to 15% slopes

25C

Rock outcrop-Lithic Dystrochrepts, 8 to 15% slopes

53C

Udorthents and Dystrochrepts, loamy, moderately deep, rocky, 8 to 15% slopes

53DE

Udorthents and Dystrochrcpts, loamy, moderately deep, rocky, 15 to 40% slopes

-'

..' ...... '\ \ \ '- .. ' .

Soil Pit Locations o

I

Figure 8. Soils.

50

100

200

"0 !

Central Park North Meadow

SOILS 28


Qualitative Hydrologic Study Prepared by Joseph P. Martin, Ph.D., P.E. Consultant to Andropogon Associates, Ltd. December 1989

Scope & Problem Statement This is a report on an investigation of hydrologic conditions in the North \1eadow, a heavily used visual and active recreational area in Central Park, Manhattan. The essential problems are as follows: • Poor surface drainage, restricting use during and after storms • Poor drainage of the suriicial soils, promoting compaction, retarding vegetative growth and fostering deterioration of pavements • Concentrated now and poor vegetation near inlets, sloped areas, and along paths, promoting erosion and subsequent sedimentation in drains and in nearby open water bodies This report employs historical records, the current topography and drainage facilities, and subsurface exploration/soil mapping to qualitatively describe the reasons for and the relationships between the problems listed above. This is intended to be incorporated into an overall inventory and analysis report. Also included are brief descriptions of methods of solution to be incorporated into a preliminary restoration plan. The term "restoration" is employed as the intention of the overall project is to restore the area to the conditions envisioned in the original Olmsted design, adjusted for present-day demands on the facility. These are centered on active team-type athletics: softball, soccer, etc. The desired end product of the overall project is a historically-based, aesthetically pleasing, intense recreation area. This is the guiding objective of this report, rather than more customary analYSis for hydrologic control objectives such as flood relief.

Local Setting and Present Drainage Pattern The North Meadow of Central Park is within an area defined by, in a clockwise direction, Fifth Avenue, Central Park North, Central Park V'/est, and a large reservoir. However, the North Meadow itself does not touch these external boundaries. The Meadovv is actually two distorted ovaloid-shaped open areas, generally sloping to the north. The study tract includes the wooded outer margins of these open areas through which an encircling bridle path passes. To avoid confusion in directional descriptions, the western meadow will hereafter be labeled "A" and the eastern one is "B". These areas are separated by a low, sparsely wooded saddle which Central Park North Meadow

29


rises to the south in heavier vegetation to a promontory topped with the North Meadow Center building. At the north end of Central Park is a fan-like series of ponds labeled, from southwest to northwest and downstream, the Pool, the Loch, and the Meer, respectively. Only the former two border the North Meadow, each defining the discharge site for drainage from a section of the study tract. A 48" drain from the reservoir passes through meadow A en route to the Pool, picking up drainage from inlets en route. However, there is a limited portion of area A which drains overland to the Pool, as shown on the accompanying sketch. 1I1eadow area B drains to the Loch. Only a strip on the western side, downslope from the North MeadO\v Center, drains overland all the way across the Meadow. Overland drainage for the balance of area B has been blocked by fill for a ballfield, causing a surface depression. Figure 9 illustrates the convergence of streamlines to an inlet discharging into an 18" drain that originates at the 97th Street transverse roadway. This pipe then discharges into the Loch. The extreme easterly margin of the ~orth Meadow drains to a piped system towards Fifth Avenue, and thus is not tributary to the Pool-Loch-Meer waterway system. Each side of the North ?l1eadow is in the shape of an elongated dish. The wooded slopes surrounding the meadow are like the rim edge of the dish. Relief on area B side varies from elevations of 90' to 95' on the wooded slopes to the south, sloping to 70' in the large central depression. Beyond the divide (75' or so) on the filled area that formed the closed drainage depresion, the land falls an additional 10' to 15' to the gully at the outlet of the aforementioned 18" drain. Grades are steeper on the margins of area A, with the bridle path on the west side dropping in elevation from about 105' to 75' on the meadow floor.

Historical Topographic Changes A ridge bisects Manhattan just west of Central Park, and the ponds eventually drain to the East River. Figure 10 shows the drainage pattern before the park was developed in the mid-1800s, with the North Meadow being essentially an upland swamp. The topography was formed by glaciers, modified by soil and rock weathering and erosion/sedimentation to arrive at the conditions shown on the 1857 map. Three different drainage routes are indicated flowing off the swampy meadow which formed a high plateau ringed by the ""ooded slopes. After the glacial retreat, the North Meadow was probably an irregularly shaped lake, in a depression scooped out by the ice. This flooded area probably overflowed into a gently sloping stream flowing due east, like the one on the map. Two mechanisms resulted in the demise of the lake. As in all still-water situations, sediment from local slopewash and aquatic vegetation filled the lake from the bottom. The lake water level was depressed after tributaries to a degrading (downcutting) stream broke through the divide between the lake and the southwest to northeast flowing stream. The lake then continued to spill through the two west-flowing channels shown on Figure 10 until separate west (A) and east (B) branches of the meadow emerged. Central Park North Mcadow

30


North Meadow Drainage 1934 ~ If" ~ Park-wide Watershed Divides ~

Site Divides

_--)7 Generalized Flow

~

Outfall Inlet or Point of Discharge

â&#x20AC;˘

NB: Minor variations may occur due to inlet locations not sho\,\'n.

Figure 9. North Meadow Drainage 1934

31


North Meadow Drainage 1857

!.;~;~i(}:?:?>~7~Yll!§ !~~~i:'~;;~::~~;~i<'~\ .-"-~'"

~

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32 Figure J O. North Meadow Drainage J 857


The divide between the two outlets on the B side is shown as being very indistinct, in contrast to the gently sloped but unmistakeable saddle between areas A and B. In time, the north-flowing stream would probably have dominated and cut off the easterly flow. Such a slow process was short-circuited in the original \1eadow developmen t. The original Olmsted-era development involved several changes in topography to produce a visually pleasing hydrologic condition: 1. Constructing the three ponds by a combination of dikes, check dams, and excavations, but at a 1vater level low enough to prevent backing up into the Meadow. 2. Diverting the upper reaches of the east-flowing stream towards the Loch and the ~1eer to prevent stagnation of the impoundments. This was done by filling in the valley "'here the stream on Figure 10 turns to the east. 3. Providing a continuously sloped surface titling to the north to permanently drain the two upland swamps (areas A and B). 4. Pro\'ide soil drainage to change from the natural waterlogged SOil-swampy vegetation condition to one which drained and aerated the "A" horizon of the soil profile (topsoil & root zone) to support grass. It was essential to promote moisture retention, however. Filling the eastward valley essentially doubled the 1vatershed area that flowed into the Loch. To accomplish item 3, noted above, the upland swamps were probably filled slightly at the southern extremities, and cut on the north, thus eliminating the flat areas in the center. To avoid erosion and stream channel maintenance, the land was also graded more gently transverse to the direction of drainage, replacing the stream channels with very wide swales. This grading manipulation limited concentration of flow, yet provided a drainage route after storms by using much more of the area to convey local and upland flow to the ponds [see Figure 11). The effect is seen on the accompanying hydrographs of Figure 12. The upper plot sh01\,s a hypothetical storm event of an arbitrary duration. The lower figure shows runoff hydrographs for runoff rate at a Loch or Pool swale/ pipe/swamp channel watershed outlet for each of three general scenarios. ',Vith the original swamp, the time for runoff to cross the flat, tangled-vegetation surface (time of concentration) was quite long. Once in a brush-lined channel of minimal bottom slope, water would still flow slowly. Hence the peak flow rate 1'>'ould be low, but the ground surface could be soggy for days after a storm. The uppermost plot shows an opposing condition, that of piped drainage fed by many inlets. This type of facility is usually intended to remove water quickly after a storm. The rate of overland flow is still a key parameter. In the North Meadow, the time of concentration would be quicker for the graded, grass-covered condition, but Central Park North Meadow

33


North Meadow Drainage 1989 A B

Watershed Areas

~ Park-wide Watershed Divides ~

_____

~>-

SiteDivides Generalized Flow Outfall FiIled Areas That Change Drainage Pattern

o

I

50

100.

Inlet or Point of Discha.rge NB: Minor variations may occur due to inlet tC?cations not shov·,rn.

'"

.00

,

Figure 11. North Meadow Drainage 1989

·34


-:=onceptual Variations in Runoff Hydrographs

I ntensi ty

Hypothetical Storm Event

time

pipe drainage

runoff rate original swampy conditions

Runoff Response

Figure 12. Conceptual Variations in Runoff Hydrographs

time

35


still slower than would be the case with smooth impervious cover. Once in a piped channel, removal would be rapid. The middle curve represents the condition of grass runoff over hundreds of feet to the local watershed outlet. Prevention of distinct channel creation is accomplished by keeping the water depth low with wide, gently sloping swales, producing a down-valley sheet flow steadily increasing in depth and velocity as upland runoff accumulated. The result is not only a peak flow rate attenuation, but a significant runoff rate for many hours after a storm. The overland, continuous swale condition is thought to represent the original meadow development. The uppermost curve is more like the present condition where inlets at intervals (and in the bottom of the area B depression) remove water from the overland [Jow regime. It is also noteworthy that the continuously sloping condition also encouraged surface-layer drainage by downslope interilow in and just below the "A" horizon, as

illustrated by the fourth set of iigures. In well-grassed (protected hom rainsplash) and cultivated soils, the upper 8"-12" is generally quite permeable and open to infiltration. This is a result of root channels, the ability to form an aggregated structure, and the "fluffing" effect of organic debris in the soil. The effect is to divert much of the incident rainfall into the soil, reducing the proportion that is surface runoff. However, the subsurface soils are often much less permeable than the surficial material, especially with finer-grained lake and s"'amp deposits. Infiltrated precipitation has to go somewhere, but the fine-grained soils and crystalinemetamorphic bedrock of Manhattan do not encourage deep percolation. Hence, drainage of the upper soil would be retarded if the hydraulic gradient has only a vertical component, a condition that results with flat grades. Soil can be waterlogged for extended periods, forming a near surface perched condition. However, with the continuous but gentle downslope, lateral drainage of infiltrated water is possible, providing both dewatering of the perched water and soil re-aeration in the dewatered pore spaces. A gentle slope and permeable surface soil extends the period when the soil is not saturated, but substantial soil moisture is available to plants. In meadow A, where the land flattened before dropping down to the Pool, there was apparently a subdrainage problem and subsurface tile drains were installed. The general condition provided by original park development has been altered in several ways. The first is shown on the lower sketch of Figure 13. The accumulated upland drainage in the soil as interflow was blocked in area B with the filling of the lower reaches of the central swale. The subsurface water level "piles up" at the lower end of the slope as shown, and in particular, around the depression inlet. This water cannot enter the inlet unless the walls are fractured. Drainage to groundwater would be expected to be negligible. The use of the meadow has changed from passive to active recreation. The result is more foot traffic and soil compaction. This is exacerbated by the fine-grained nature of the soil and the limited soil drainage. Heavy foot traffic on moist, fine-grained soil changes the soil structure from the free-draining, open-pore condition to a much less permeable one. Waterlogged, compacted soil conditions are less favorable for thick Central Park North Meadow


1 1

Effect of Swale Filling on Soil Drainage

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1 37 Figure 13. Effect of Swale filling on Soil Drainage

1


and vigorous grass growth. The re-grading is apparently the result of two forces: one, the pressure to install flatter athletic fields, and two, the availability of fill from downtown construction (subways, sewers, basements, etc.). To provide surface drainage, the closed drainage system has been installed in a multitude of stages. The runoff rates and velocities are quicker on soils less resistant to erosion. Hence, suspended material is delivered to the Loch, and turbidity and sedimentation problems result.

Soil Type and Subsurface Conditions The soil map shown in the main report hints at the problenis through the soil origins, which are apparently a combination of still water sedimentation (fine alluvium) and slope wash (colluvium) of fine-grained soil weathered in place on the local hillsides. The value of these materials for grass growth and surficial drainage is high if the structure is preserved, but considerably lessened if drainage is prevented and the structure is compressed and remolded by traffic when wet. The fine-grained soils are susceptible to erosion in ei ther case. The primary soils in the open meadows (as opposed to the wooded slopes) are called Udorthents, moderate to poorly drained loams and silty loams. A loam is a mixture of sand, silt, and clay which can form an open, aggregated structure. The loams predominate in the areas \,'here there is some slope, such as the saddle between the two areas A and B. The 100"er, central portions of the two meadows, presumably the deeper portions of the ancient lake, are more silly. Howe\'er, the sand fraction in either case is limited and of fine sand texture. Hence, the soil does not have a structurally stiff granular (coarse soil) skeleton. Sheet erosion is evident by the mud deposits around inlets and active play areas and turbidity of the ponds near the outlets. A series of exploratory test pits show that the topSOil thickness varies, but is relatively thin, on the order of 2" to 5". The most useful observation, other than confirmation of the regional mapping, is the mottle, or stains and precipitates on the soil at fairly shallow depths, a foot or so in the B horizon underlying the topSOil. These markings indicate a transition between aerobic (upper) and anareobic (lower) conditions, or alternatively, oxidining and reducing zones. The soil is waterlogged, or poorly aerated even if unsaturated, at depths where roots should be in more favorable conditions. The topographic variations have been made by moving around soil obtained in the meadow area or from similar geologic settings, and the organic content is low. This work has been going on intermittently over the last century. Hence, it is not possible to conclusively state what the depth of fill (or cut) has been at any particular point.

Restoration Standards A series of problems can be identified that are visible to the public, including standing water pools and mudholes around inlets, sogginess after rains, erosion along the bridle path in the steeper southwest area, and use of the paths as drainage channels during storms, in part due to clogged inlets. Any solution must address several changes since Olmsted's time, centered around the change in use from Central Park North Meadow

38


passive recreation to active athletic sports and overall heavy use. Alterations made in this regard included grading for the ballfields and installation of drains in a piecemeal manner to remedy the problems caused by the fields, e.g. reduced infitration capacity and interrupted overland drainage. The closed drainage (piping) was also installed to accelerate the removal of surface water to return a facility to use more rapidly after a storm. A concern in this regard is that some drains are of inadequate size and accessibility for cleaning. A modified restoration should provide more efficient drainage than the original plan, not only for serviceability, but also to protect the soil. Heavy traffic on the fine-grained soils in a moist condition will only compact them again. To foster vegetation, improvement of the soil composition is required in some areas, which will assist in drying the near-surface as well as the surface.

Recommendations If at all possible, the first mitigating action is to restore the continuously sloped overland drainage path alignments. This is not a major problem in the western section (watershed A), but the eastern (watershed B) depression should be eliminated.

The soil compaction resistance and the infiltration and interflow capacity should be restored. However, to support grass, it is also desireable to provide a high degree of moisture retention after drainage occurs. This calls for a strong, aggregated, loamy structure with an organiC content. Up to three admixtures are recomn,ended: â&#x20AC;˘ A coarse to medium sand to produce the open, free-draining structural skeleton bound with the existing fine-grained, partly plastic soil â&#x20AC;˘ A soil conditioner with a high but refractory (difficult to decompose) organic content to improve moisture retention. Commercially marketed digested and processed sludge byproducts might serve this purpose. â&#x20AC;˘ Possibly, a degradable organic soil conditioner to further open the structure until root growth is re-established. To produce the basic granular skeleton, up to a net 40% -50% sand content may be required in the top 8" to produce an SC (clayey sand) or SM (silty sand) classification. Such a topsoil would have high infiltration capacity, but as one proceeds dovmslope toward the watershed outlets, the accumulated interflow discharge rate would probably exceed the capacity of a relatively thin surface layer of aggregated soil. To keep water moving in the soil at downstream areas under the main swales, a granular subdrainage blanket may be used as shown on Figure 14. It is essential that such a gravel drain be protected by a non-degradable filter, probably a geotextile. The blanket drain could be connected to the pipe drainage system through perforated pies, as also shown on Figure 14.

Central Park North Mcadow

39


\

A special problem occurs at the bridle path on the south and west side of Area B. The steep path now functions as a waterway. The sketches on Figure 15 illustrate the use of a gravel blanket underdrain to both dewater and support the track. Subsurface underdrains and restored surface gutters discharging into the inlet and pipes complete the system.

Central Park North Meadow

40


Proposed Swale - Traffic Area Soil Restoration - Sub drainage

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Figure 14. Proposed Swale - Traffic Area Soil Restoration - Subdrainage

41


Conceptual Drum/Intercept/Support for Bridle Path

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Figure J5. Conceptual Drum/Intercept/Support for Bridle Path

42


Key Informant Survey 1. Concepts and Methodology Part of the first phase of this project was a series of interviews conducted with various groups, agencies and 'key informants'. The purpose of this task, as stated in the contract, was to 'supplement the inventory information and confirm the scope of the design'. The interviews are not meant to scientific surveys of users. Such surveys have, and are, being conducted by others, and are be beyond the scope of this project. The basic determination of the project goals and objectives has already been made by the client, and was the basis of tIle Request for Proposals. However, the process of design will always reveal elements, both constraints and opportunities, that were not necessarily evident at the time that the problem was originally defined. Furthermore, projects, particularly those in the public domain, take time to evolve, and during this time changes occur. The process of interviewing is therefore also an update on the RFP, but more importantly, it is an integral part of the design process in which ideas are exchanged between different parties, and views expressed from many different perspectives. It is particularly valuable to conduct such interviews and meetings at an early stage. When many people involved in the project have participated in the 'brainstorming', the actual designs can then begin at a more realistic level, and with a measure of familiarity and support that would not exist if they were presented 'cold'.

2. People and Groups Surveyed Central Park is arguably the best kno\\'n city park in the world. Any project concerning it is going to be highly visible, and many people will want to speak on the subject. It would not be possible for us to consul t wi th all of them. We have conducted these interviews, therefore, essentially as a two tier process, with our principal informants being the client agencies. These are the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy. These two agencies have steered us to the main people involved in the operation and maintenance of the North Meadow, and to others involved in the planning and pOlicy making in the Park, and in the Borough of Manhatten in general. During the course of the interviews we have become aware of several other groups who are concerned with the use, preservation, and health of the Park. Most of these we have either met with directly, or we have been advised of their viev.'s by the client. One group was formed during the process of this phase and that is the Central Park Task Force on Use and Security. This happened in response to the highly publicized assault on a woman runner that occured on the 102 Street Transverse Drive, the north boundary of the contract area. In addition, there are numerous user groups, in particular those representing participants in organized recreation. Erana Stennet, Director of Community Relations for the Central Park Adn,inistration has been interviewing user groups and other community representatives. \Ve have been working in close coordination with her in our surveys, and information generated by has been made available to us. A complete list of the people and groups interviewed or contacted appears at the end of this section. Central Park North Meadow

43


3. The Design Intent The interviews should be seen in the context of the design intent for the North Meadow as stated in the contract. There are specific boundaries to the project, a designated time frame, and an agreed workscope. These elements represent contractual obligations that provide the basic limits to the project, regardless of opinions and ideas that may be generated by the interviews. There is, however, some flexibility for making changes in the program. There is a conceptual plan stage during which comments and changes can be made before the design is finalized and goes into contract drawings. The actual implementation of the design will be in two main phases, only one of which is currently under contract. The timing of phase two will be several years from now and it is to be expected that there will be some changes before then, both as a result of the experience \,'ith phase one, and of changed conditions within tl1e community. The boundaries of the project are the East and West Drives, and the 97th Street and 102 Street Transverse Drives. The intent of the reconstruction, as originally stated in the Management and Restoration Plan for Central Park, and restated in the RFP, was to restore something of the original design intent of this area, while maintaining an active program of recreation. \Vhile there are several types of recreational facilities provided for in the North 2\1eadow, the predominant activity is baseball and softball. Soccer, football, and other field games are also played. In Olmsted's original plan, the North Meadow was what the name implies -- an open, rolling, pastoral area, with no fixed facilities -- literally a meadow. In the historical research that we have done so far, it is abundantly clear that Olmsted placed great emphasis on the importance of these open spaces to the overall design concept of the 'Greensward Plan'. Indeed, the open vistas that the meadow areas provided were considered to be the most important aspect of the park, providing an antidote to the confines of the city. It is clear, however, that there were pressures to use these spaces for active recreation virtually from the beginning, and Olmsted was compelled to defend the meadow against encroachment more than once. Eventually, the pressure for permanent playing fields won out, and the North Meadow became essentially what we see today.

4. The Interviews Prime concerns The picture of the North Meadow that emerged from the initial interviews was of an aging recreational facility that fully satisfied few of its users, and was extremely difficult both to operate and maintain. The problems that concerned staff, and others involved with the running of the park, were almost entirely to do with the playing fields in the open meadow area. This primary concern tended to divert attention from the others problems of the North Meadow, such as the deterioration of the bridle trail, the vegetation, and other facilities. These other problems also need solutions, however, the recreational issue is a city-wide problem for which Central Park tends to be a focus. As it was expressed to us more than once, "Everybody wants Central Park North Mcadow

44


to play in Central Park." Central Park has prestige, whether you area Little League player, or a member of a softball league in a m.a)or corporatlOn, It 1S. the preferred location. This is not to say there are no complall1ts about poor cond1t10ns, but the shortage of playing space in Manhattan is acute and the demand shows no signs of dropping.

Physical Problems When we probed for solutions to the playing field issue, we were initially offered few ideas for solutions. \Ve were told that it was an impossible situation, that the current system tended to favor entrenched users, that there was no space for expansion, and that the permit system could not adequately cope with the current usership and would be impossible to change. In an attempt to break this feeling of a deadlocked situation, we started to ask more specific questions about the actual operations and maintenance, and began to separate the purely physical problems of the landscape and planning from the political and operational issues. Our studies of the existing conditions, which were being done simultaneously with the interviews, confirmed that there was indeed no room for expansion of playing fields on the North Meadow unless large areas of existing woodland were cut down and extensive rock outcrops blasted away. Furthermore, study of the current field layout reveals that there is extensive overlapping of the outfield areas to the point that play, when many fields are in use, can be very confused and dangerous. We were aware from the original brief that drainage was a problem that exacerbated the overcrowding and prevented fields irom being used ior extended periods after rain. Both the interviews and the site investigations confirmed this, and clarified the reasons for this situation. To understand why drainage is such a problem in the North Meadow, one must see the problem in historical perspective. The original landscape of the :\forth Meadow was a swampy upland forest. Olmsted cleaned this up, improved the natural drainage, and created a rolling grassy meadow. Later, to accommodate an extended permanent installation of playing fields, the area was filled and levelled, and pipe drains installed. The natural surface drainage was blocked and modified to create basins that drain internally to inlets in the grass. Studies of the actual flow of water through these basins show that the drainage is far from ideal for playing fields. Of the twelve ballfields, only one or two can be considered to have correct drainage from the outset, and the deterioration of facilities has made even these less than ideal. In one field, the entire playing area, plus a considerable amount of surrounding land, drains to the infield. Other fields are too flat, or too uneven for good drainage flow. (see figs in Hydrology Section) Adding to this problem is the fact that the fields are often used by different leagues which play on different sized diamonds. There is an ad hoc system whereby the players themselves change the field layouts. "'"ear at the bases creates puddles at these different locations and players frequently dig their own drainage channels to try and improve the situation. Yet another aspect of the drainage problem is that soccer, football, and other games are played in the outfield areas. Because of their location at the center of the basins, these fields are dished in the middle, the opposite of proper drainage for a playing field of this type. The most intensive play often coincides with the areas of greatest drainage flow. Soccer, in particular, is very

Central Park North Mcadow

45


hard on grass fields, and, not surprisingly, these places are often little more than mudholes. A closely related problem is soil compaction which impedes drainage and prevents good growth of plants and grass. Soil compaction in the North Meadow is related to the material originally used to fill the meadow area, to the heavy use and poor drainage, and to the indiscriminate use of vehicles driving on the grass areas. It was realized by staff that vehicle use was a con tributary factor in soil compaction, however, they also pointed out that that path access to the fields was poor for the vehicles that need to deliver such things as clay for repairing the infield areas, or collect garbage. Conversely, access across grass areas from the peripheral drives is far too easy, encouraging both staff and the public to drive on the meadow. There was clearly support for some path redesign beyond simply repaving existing alignments. The paths that were installed at the time the current field layout was designed are mostly straight alignments related to the field edges. These are not in character with the original flowing lines of Olmsted's design, and while it was not a burning issue with most of the people we interviewed, there was recognition that there could be aesthetic improvement with a new layout, as well as practical operational improvements, such as proper access and cleaning areas for equipment.

Operational and Usership Problems It became obvious during the interview process that regardless of the user demand,

the North Mea dow can onl y accommod a te a limi ted n um ber of facilities. Furthermore, it is doubtful that the current layout of fields can be used to its full capacity with any degree of safety. A common complaint from potential players was that fields are often not in use at times for which they were denied permits. While we cannot say for certain that this is the case, there is nothing in the permit system that prevents it. There is currently an attempt to verify actual use by on-site checking of permits. Several aspects of the permit system exacerbate the problems of managing the North Meadow. In a situation where demand far exceeds supply, the system favors a narrow constituency of players who have historically used the area. Teams tend to reserve fields regardless of whether they actually use them. This is understandable, but not very fair to others who might want to play in the park. There was general agreement that the permitting process could be improved, regardless of other aspects of the problem. Suggestions included computerizing, apparently to some extent already underway, and a confirmation process similar to making an airline reservation. \Vith this idea, a team would have to confirm that it was using the field at a particular time, or lose the reservation and thus free the field for someone else. There \,,,as also a suggestion that there should be an operations manager for the North Park. One of the thorniest problems of operating the North Meadow as a recreational area, beyond that of excess demand, is the make-up of the user population. Who should the park serve? The bulk of present users are mostly baseball and softball leagues. On the surface, the easiest solution would be to accept current users hip as a 'political reality' and simply repair the existing fields to better accommodate this constituency. However, on closer examination, this line of reasoning falls apart. Firstly, the

Central Park North Mcadow

46


physical reality is such that money spent on repaJrlng the fields in their existing configuration would be largely wasted because of the built-in problems already mentioned. The fields would deteriorate very rapidly, and there would be no improvement in the overall appearance of the area. Secondly, the user constituency is changing in ways that are not yet fully realized. Demographic changes in the neighborhoods are introducing different interests. Historically under-represented groups are knocking at the doors of the park. In meetings with the Central Park Task Force on Use and Security, some of these issues began to surface. A recognition that the entire North Park area needed to be seen as an entity with related problems and opportunities began to develop. In this context, there was a feeling that the North Meadow needed to be an area where there were more diverse activities than at present. More mixed use would serve two purposes. Firstly, a broader spectrum of the population would be served. Secondly, the area could become safer and more congenial to all users if it were less the province of a few special groups. It is a generally accepted principle that a greater diversity of people and uses creates more natural surveillance and a tendency toward a safer public space. One idea that would help achieve this end would be to have an area of the meadow that allowed a greater range of informal active recreation. It should be emphasized that nobody was suggesting that existing users should be

entirely displaced, however, one idea was seriously debated, and that was the removal of hardball games irom tIle parle Hardball creates many related problems within a mixed use park that are very difficult to solve. The principal problem being one of safety. People have been hit by balls, and the the potential for a serious accident is very real. Proper facilities for baseball include adequate space, fences, bleachers, lights, etc. The North Meadow is not well suited to this purpose, and more softball or other sports could be accommodated if the hardball fields were eliminated. Should this idea be pursued, alternative locations must be found for the hardball players, and an adequate transition period provided. The New York Department of Parks and Recreation is currently conducting an organized sports users survey as part of a city-wide recreation masterplan study. At the time that his report was prepared, about 20 leagues had responded to the survey. A preliminary summary of the survey results is included at the end of this section.

The North Meadow Center The North Meadow Center is the only building on the site and deserves special mention. While several users are housed in this building (see Existing Conditions Section), the existing facilities serve a relatively small number of park users. Park ranger offices for the entire Borough of Manhattan take up the western half of this building, while a large section of the eastern half is dedicated to a nursery/day care center for less than twenty children. There was a general consensus that this building should be used as a recreational facility with program space for the park and that it would serve as securi ty post for the North Park. It was also suggested during the interview process that the North Meadow Center could provide the recreational director offices for the North Park, which would oversee ballfield use and enforce the permit system.

Central Park North Meadow

47


5. Consensus of the Interviews While there wiIl be continuing input and consultation during the conceptual design phase of the contract, the main points of consensus seem to be clear, and are as follows: 1. The program for the renovation of the North Meadow should be seen in the context of the renovation and development of the the entire North Park and should be as responsive as possible to all potential users.

2. While the present program of recreation must be respected, an attempt should be made to diversify the potential uses that are possible within the meadow area. This may include removing hardbaIl, completely redesigning the layout of the present fields, the possible use of movable equipment, and the provision of a specific mUlti-purpose area where quite different activities may occur on a seasonal basis, such as educational programs and events that will attract large groups of people to the northern section of the park. 3. Operational and policy changes will be needed to ensure the success of the renovated North Meadow. These will be worked out in conjunction with park staff and other concerned people as the design of the area develops. 4. While not a controversial topic within the interviews, we believe that it is understood that a principal intent of this contract is to renovate and enhance the entire area of the North Meadow so as to substantially restore its original Olmstedian flavor. This work will, in addition to the restoration of recreational facilities include repairing the bridle path, renovating the plantings, solving the drainage and erosion problems, and repairing and/or redesigning the paths and other facilities as may be required.

6. People Interviewed It is hoped that this phase of the North Meadow Study represents the first step in a truly participatory design process. \Ve wish to express our gratitude to the foIlowing individuals who gave of their time, expertise, and concerns. We look forward to working with them in the future, and hope that they will recognize their contributions in the resulting planning effort.

List of Parties Interviewed New York Department of Parks and Recreation Central Park Administration and the Central Park Conservancy Patrick Pomposello WiIliam Castro Gloria Lend Ron Cianciulli Jane Sayer Central Park North Meadow

Manhattan Borough Commissioner Assistant Commissioner of Recreation Manhattan Borough Manager Chief of Operations, Borough of Manhattan Director of Administration, Borough of Manhattan 4S


Edward Raasch Diana Chapin Ruth Diggs Tom Kenney Edmund Schubert Lavvrence Mauro Elizabeth Barlow Rogers Marianne Cramer Tobi Bergman Tim Marshall Neil Calvanese Laura Starr Teresa LoPiccolo Yap Amy Heinz Erana Stennett Rex \Vasserman Ed Toth Madeline Lacovara Allen Payne Herbe Souchet Paul Novograd Mark Indenbaum

Director of Special Services, Sports and Fitness, Borough of Manhattan Deputy Commissioner of Planning, Borough of Manhattan Director of Recreation, Borough of Manhattan Assistant Supervisor of Recreation Borough of Manhattan Chief of Design, Olmsted Design Center Job Captain, Olmsted Design Center Central Park Administrator Deputy Administrator of Planning, Central Park Chief of Operations, Central Park Director of Construction, Central Park Director of Horticulture, Cen tral park Assistant Landscape Architect, Central Park Soil Conservation Program Coordinator, Central Park Director of Development and External Affairs, Central Park Conservancy Director of Community Relations, Central Park Administration Assistant Landscape Architect, Prospect Park Director of Horticul ture, Prospect Park Executive Director, Central Park Task Force Program Director, Parks Council Catolica La Milagrosa League Claremont Riding Academy Paddleball player

Input from the following community groups and individuals was achieved through the Central Park Administration: The Boys Harbor Schomburg Plaza Tenants Association The Upward Fund Community Board #7 Community Board #8 Community Board #10 Mr. Hemeil Corporate Sports Association Olga Mendez State Senator Manfred Ohridnstein State Senator David Paterson Sta te Sena tor Ted Weiss U.s. Congressman Jerrold Nadler State Assemblyman Richard Gottfried State Assemblyman Carolyn Mahoney City Council Member City Council Member Ruth Messinger

Central Park North Mcadow

49


PRELIMINARY FINDINGS FROM ORGANIZED SPORTS SURVEY OF THE NORTH }mADOW BALLFIELDS

To date, approxinat2ly 20 lee.g\.:€s \,,,ve n:sporcled to the survey 1 0.89 'O~S"'~~CI'11"~ INr'> .O<'·;{ed to C~-'Dl ..... ;.., .. .. .... •. cono'ucted in "o"€-:,"'~ "ey con~~r''''''''''''-''''::?4 (··-·'r.et'o~ T"r~-t"l·'!""·~~-"''''O ..-....... .... ,..,~ sur , a ' .• ~~c".!.~ -~ i"'<" _ ,,8 ,.-'"- ~.,-. t ~ ~"."._ ct,C information abov-'C the les8ue, G.re.t.cs cf CEntral Park t,.ey ?~.(;~1 in, alternative sites used ~~en C~ntrsl ?2rk fields a~e r2: ~,,'''rj,.l

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.~-----.-------

... 01. _ O ·'-:"·' V. _ ... "he .cOll <ites is not avail~~:e: 1; . . . . . . . . . .

reI:.; soley cn rh,:'!

Schedule: The n:..L"TIber of galT.as play(Sd d'..lring B year by a League vary. The l",:-g~r leag~es play 60 to 150 g,,-mes per year Gurir,g ti:e SprinE', ~,\i=er an~ Fal~ l~~,:t)-_s every Heek, On av~rage each team j:.:.£.Y" ;;.pproxJ.mBtE.:.:J ~:, ga.;r.es per year, I a.TJl oefining larger leagues 88 those leag~es consisting of 15 or more teams.

i

I Central Park North Meadow ... '.


Schedule: The fields are heavily utilized during the Spring and Fall months, Several leagues use:. the fields during the S=er months, The fields are not in use December, January and February and are rarely in use in ~ovember, Xost of the teams play "eekly and bi路weelcly, betlo."een 3:00-5:00P~j or 5: 00路 7: OOPM, The teams that play in the ~orning (9: OOAH-l : OOP:'!; 9:00A~-Dusk) tend to play on weekends during the Spring and S~~er months, l:tilization: Generally, tl';O fields are used at one tL"e by the Leagues. Each team spends 2~ - 4 hours per day on each field engaged in both practice and play time, h'hile mcst tea:;:s indicated they use two fields at one time, they also stated that the opportunity to do so is rare and in some cases only once in a while, Field Conditions: ~:~;i2g fi~ld c=~eitic~8, bot~ i~拢ield and inadeq~a:e by ~cst ~esFo~esnts. Equip~ent

outfield, is ra:e~ when available is also considered inadequate, However, some respondents did find playing condition acceptable, This nu::;ber \.;as siTIall,

Surprisingly, most respondents find the size of the field to be either adequate or acceptable, '--~,

c~ t~s r2E?S~~e~~s st2te~ t~e~ :~2 C0~~itio~ of ~~s fiel~a ::k.~~" ;:l~':' ~.; peer ::.ncl 22!"'.g,=rO'i.:~. A few respondents cite specific cases ~here tea~ players were injured as a result of

: ::,.,

the poor condition of .the fields, SU~8estions

for Improving Field Conditions: ~aintenance,

1.

Replace grass infields with dirt for easier

2,

Improve drainage especially u. . . der fields {i2, 6, 8,

3.

Make stage available for leagues (the logistiCS of dragging aroung equipment ii horrendous),

4,

Have equipment available especially for field preparation when there has been rain and train leagues in proper field preparation,

S,

Have staff available.

6.

Have "kitty litter" or other such absorbent soil available for puddles,

Central Park North Mcadow

51


§u,ggestions for Im12roving Field Cb,·,did.ons: 7.

Have "super-soFpers""vailable for ,y,lddles.

8.

Install lighting on the

9.

Provide ne,y pitching r:1ounds

10, 11.

l~.

2:1d

The fields should be and Spring seasons.

~ade

Leave mere

backst:)~)s The ;:-23..:::8

5011.

work shop for

12.

fiel~s.

near

rc:I~'C.

Provice r;lcre Perks

b9.ses.

re~dy ~ell

ar.d

~Ei\~2

et;:'·'~~jt-.0:'-:- E:\1D:i~S.·~~.2 ~t ~ ::'~;.:: ~::. -:12 t:~.;:· "::.:-:.!:-.,

,,;C1.11d ::.E -\ _

:)e-~'8.~L'7::ent rr~ai:;'·:f-7~,E.:~'~'':-.':

~:,~;:&,

:"'e

this tim~ most of tl-;e· r.·.2ir~~ei1':;'Y-~CE ·"_:.~I:!:,;{ ~~.~ c:c::~ _,

Tr.e.re should be E,xtra clay i:1 eVe::':; teams could f:;.x tha i:-1field :"n

.....

.:..'r I:~

, •..

:"!"

The drainage system a.t :':c:c:h :·~tE,l:C:-.) i.~; :l _." are constantly r:r-.;ddy. i,':i.~.~~~ t:'";€": :;::'E::::-:~ ':.::-:' .. :'~ r'~ugh. \{nat grass L!:ere is! is L~'.:alj.'.~ :.~:..-~ . y w t:... ~,l- ,-...'.... f "1 "''' ~ ..... ,:. ,_ .~. -", r, ~ ..: ,. .;:.r ay . _ e .-,.. . . c. S (;, ,.'. C".... -:_.... .,...... _ ~ "d' 11 d J . " c , · '- . . S.!OlH . ce ro e ~n ["e ~?:C:';ig 8.r1L~ r!U, :·C., ,r~' Seeding could possible be rlo~e ~ncc is s~~"e ~.r...

J.l

~ _

c.~,

~-

~-'.

17 .. Both the pitching mo'..;nds "'.:id pl"i;e :"'", c Very hazarC:ous condit-ior.s axis,',,:;:: ).s;c.t

children were injureci

.~.

-...

'-

'

\.. ,. ' ~

-,

:.6,

}'all

before the start

~,

.-!

c

.'~

.~

i;

·;:t'r:-:,';e:·

5,-c~:-:.c:',''':

c.·· .. "

·C.<

Fiel':: >1aintenunce;

Field maintenance i.s describE::d as ;;0cr and i!~ :::lost: C5ses nC~~-le. E:'XiE,~~;~t ~"'sultin~ ~n most u~:t- "'~e ",'a'ns ~'~o'T~d)-g ~"ei" "'~ ~"'",~~~,,.,," .:.. __ '-.. l...':' u ::.-'" \.J.. _._ ... _.\\,.:. 1.10::'.-'.:'. "C._c'.l ... _e .~r . losing g~me time because the condition of the field are i~Bdeq~ate fer Flay. ~~.....

Suggestions for

1.

~._

.~.n:Fr:;vir,g

field )'!aintenance:

Have staff working at locatic~ each morning especially after s raining dey, Clean garbage off the field ~nce a day and drag field twice per season.

Host players stated the current arre"gement of the fieelds is adec.ue.te for playing.

Central Park North Mcadow

52


~rmitting

Syste;!l'

The majority of the respor,der,t-; :< ,-, ;-,-,- pu-,'Uitting system is poor. ~"'LI:

Suggestions for Improving Pe:rwitting S

1.

A full time staff person should be on-site coordinating field time. This individual could also be res,:onsible fer providing field and maintenance Equipmeont,

2.

computerize the permitting system.

3.

Hire computer literate personnel who

4.

P -y t"" s'i-'aff resl.>onsible ~

~!.....

....~.~

~

the

f:)!"

CBD

th1~g.

-t"·!S1.~itti71.::7 .;:-.

.:..~-, ..~:~""~

',,-e1.1.

5.

No group or individual using Parks De?&r~~E~= make a profit unless 1) no non-yrofit grou? tLue J e.nd. 2) a. significf~nt ;:.ropo:rtlcn e£ r:-.-=. ,. . -= .... +-1" t . 0 ..... e : ~_t'~ .:.Je?ar ... :1H;:; ..

6.

'f) __ y'"

~

:-,

••

~..,

;:. •

I".

-'

....

I,..

8.

For-profit groups should pay

9•

"':"'1--e .....

'r:"

-~ . .......-,",.' .... t:' J?~,I.!"-""';"~(:;I

sys~e~s :"~J.;

~""uc.. · ... \....

Tates,

-'·'·"~~·'''~2d .. c...,~j·~r· ... ·-'\;

'j'tJ

'rl . (.

- "-' ;:.' '.,'.,,-.

,',' -_,-_.~ . ~--

team from receivi:":g a FEC,;it :';:' ::" ,', field at the earr,e ti::le. Addit:1;:,::ally, :e,~,., ,-:~_:,' f'~r not: '·s'r.g a. ""e1" 0'1 ' ~~Jr'\' ;" " ~,.,. .!. .... ...1 _....... J..... U n. ...... .., •. • _ .' P '-<011ali-ed playing on a field that has not bee~ D~aq~atE~v _r~--

::101:e

then

~!effi1;~

ODe

~

10.

~

'::l.

....

~.'

,_

.'~

time person must be availd:-le :;:",:rin:":l ,"', ':: .. '-; since it has been near_y inpo5sible t(', re-,..~-,o?~~,·,' : (.,-;'.: outs - 8S no one is ever available to do t~i5 :~ taJtp~0~~ A full

11. Teams that are willing to work on the fieln9, ;;.;"d tear;. ttat take care of the fields, could be allo'wed bonus per:nits. 12.

Permit time must reflect school times. Ga:nes cannot start ur,til 3: 30 and players need until at least 5: 45PH-6: OOPl1 .

13. The permitting system must be quickened so the teams could have the permits before the season starts.

Central Park North Meadow

53


Central Park North Meadow Historical Report Prepared by Owen T. Robbins Historical Consultant to Andropogon Associates, Ltd. December 1989

Contents

Original Site Conditions - Pre 1858 1. The Greensward Plan - 1858 to 1864 II. III. Growth and Change - 1864 to 1934 IV. Robert Moses Era - 1934 to 1960 V. Post-Moses Period - 1960 to Present Vi Conclusions and Recommendations VlI. Bibliography VIII. Figures Appendix A: Trees & Shrubs of Central Park

1

4 13 32 36 40 43 46

Acknowledgements The following individuals and institutions contributed to the research necessary for this report, and are thanked most sincerely. Jose Almii'iana Terry Ariano Ken Cobb Regina DePalma Colin Franklin Jonathan Kuhn Lawrence Mauro National Archives New York City Municipal Archives New York City Department of Transportation Olmsted Center John Stinson

Andropogon Associates, Ltd. Ellen Belcher Central Park Conservancy Joe DePlasco Evelyn Gonzalez Library of Congress - Prints and Photographs Division Museum of the City of New York New York Department of Parks & Recreation New York Historical Society New York Public Library Steve Rizick Ellen Wallenstein

Special thanks to Dr. Christa Wilmanns-Wells, Sidney Donnell, and Dale Richards, without whom this project would have been seriously hampered.


I. Original Site Conditions - Pre 1858

The Wilderness Before the Park Between Ninety-sixth and One Hundred and Sixth streets there were few trees of any size, most of the fine timber which crowned the hills in that section having been plundered, and even a thrifty apple orchard having shared the same fate in the winter of 1854-5. A large portion of the surface, however, was covered with undergrowth, where, among thickets of thorns and briars, many valuable shrubs and small trees struggled for life. 1 This description is of the area of Central Park which is today known as the North Meadow. The article, written in 1911, described an area, rather far removed from the more densely populated area of downtown Manhattan, which would become known as the "Upper Park" in Frederick Law Olmsted and Cah'ert Vaux's "Greensward" plan for Central Park. The area was one of rather barren prospect; a multitude of rock outcroppings, brambles and secondary growth of trees mingling with squatters' shacks. In Figure #1, a sketch of the "Present Outlines" of the area to become the North Meadow will give some idea of the condition of that location at the time the Greensward plan was developed. A report of a committee of the Board of Aldermen (1861) described the character of the landscape destined to become Central Park in the following passage: Central Park will include grounds almost entirely useless for building purposes, owing to the very uneven and rocky surface, and also to its lying so far below the proper grade of the streets as to render the grading very costly.2 This portion of Manhattan was truly of a rural character relative to the urban center on the lower parts of the island. Even as late as 1874, fifteen years after the Park began to take form, the center of the population of Manhattan was noted as being at

-----------1Sixteenth Annual Report. 1911, of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society to the Legislature of the State of New York. transmitted to the Legislature June 12, 1911 (Albany: J. B. Lyon Company, 1911), 439. 2Report of Special Committee Appointed to Examine into Condition. Affairs and Pro~ress of the New York Central Park, Transmitted to the Legislature January 25,1861 (Albany: Charles Van Benthuysen, Printer, 1861),7.

Central Park North Mcadow Historical Report

1


the Washington statue in Union Square 1 , between 14th and 17th Streets and Broadway and Park Avenue South. It appears that there were no constructions of any major sort on the North Meadow. A reconstructed map appearing in the book Rebuilding Central Park (1987) shows a few small buildings on the promontory in the midst of the pre-park site in 1857 [Fig. 2]. Mount St. Vincent's Convent had been built just north and east of the site and would playa role in the early years of the Park. The pre-history of the area is evident in the North Meadow today. The rocks visible in the North Meadow carry reminders of the glacial movement which created the island. These grooves are observable "on a large rock lying at the intersection of the lines of One Hundred and Third street and Sixth Avenue if projected, in the northeast corner of the North Meadow. This rock is crossed by the path which skirts the northern side of the North Meadow and is at the highest part of the path" [Figure #3]. Grooves are also visible "on a rock lying at the south side of the North Meadow, about midway between East Drive and "Vest Drive, about in line with Ninety-ninth Street."2 The design of the Park carries remnants of the earlier history of the land. The present East Drive bordering the North Meadow was formed of a portion of the Old Boston (or Albany) Post Road (Kings Bridge Road on map in Fig. #4). The walk along the southern edge of the North Meadow may have roughly followed the "New Bloomingdale Cross-road." The map in Fig.#4 purportedly illustrates landmarks in the area in 1776, and shows what appears to be a major swale and stream effectively dividing the North Meadow area into two plateaus. Although the accuracy of this map, drawn in 1905, may be questionable, it may perhaps be assumed that the delineator obtained base information from an historic source. This source may have been a map entitled "Central Park and Jones Park, New York" and published in the Illustrated News, June 25, 1853 [Fig. #5]. The illustration shows swales similar to those on the "Landmark Map." Indeed, the North Meadow is referentially divided into two spaces, usually East Meadow and West Meadow, for the first two decades of its existence.

lThird General Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Works for the Period of Twentv Months. From Mav 1st, 1872. to Dec. 31st, 1873 (New York: William C. Bryant & Co., 1875), 348. 2Edward Hagaman Hall, "Central Park in the City of New York" in Appendix G of the Sixteenth Annual Report. 390.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

2


The Municipal Archives of the City of New York houses a number of early plans which appear to be survey sketches [see Fig. #6]. These drawings, attributed to 1860, show the existing rock outcroppings, streams and proposed drives, and contain verbal descriptions such as "rocks", "trees" and "muck". They are laid out with grids which often have barely legible numbers in the corners, most likely indicating the existing elevations. No drawing was found that dealt with more than the perimeter of the North Meadovl, but further scrutiny of these drawings may yield additional information concerning the original topography of the area. The site that would become the North Meadow was apparently of little consequence or value before the development of the "Greensward" Plan. It would, however, serve as an inspiration to the designers toward the fulfillment of their major goal in park design: to provide open, pastoral spaces.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

3


II. The Greensward Plan - 1858 to 1864 Design Concept The team of Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted produced a plan for the Improvement of Central Park in New York City, numbered 33 and titled "Greensward" [Figure #7). Their concept for the park included the basic premise of the future growth and condition of the City of New York as it spread its way north from lower Manhattan. They foresaw the following Manhattan scenario: There will be no suggestion left of its present varied surface, with the single exception of the few acres contained in the Park. Then the priceless value of the present picturesque outlines of the ground will be more distinctly perceived, and its adaptability for its purpose more fully recognized. It therefore seems desirable to interfere with its easy, undulating outlines, and picturesque, rocky scenery as little as possible, and, on the other hand, to endeavor rapidly, and by every legitimate means, to increase and judiciously develop these particularly individual and characteristic sources of landscape effects.l The "Greensward" plan was chosen from a field of 35 respondents to the competition, and contained some basic elements. The first premise was that as much space as possible should be devoted to "pastoral scenery", shutting out the rigors of the teeming city and providing a place for the refreshment and re-creation of the inhabitants thereof. In an article written in 1861, Olmsted described the following situation: It is chiefly remarkable as an effort to reconcile the necessities of a park which is to be the centre of a crowded metropolis with scenery, the predominating quality of which shall be rural and in some parts even rudely picturesque . ... Its artistic intentions are described in a recent report of a legislative committee to be, "in the first place, to obtain large unbroken surfaces of smooth meadow-like ground wherever the natural obstacles to this mode of treatment are to be overcome, even by heavy expenditure. The immediate borders of these spaces are planted in a manner to hide or disguise any incongruous quality in the grounds beyond."2 lFrederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, "Document No.5 of 1858, C. P. c.," in Forty Years of Landscape Architecture: Central Park. edited by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and TI1eodora Kimball (Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1973, reproduction of original 1928 edition), 46. 2Frederic Law Olmsted, "Park", article in New American CvcJopaedia 11861], in The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Vol. Ill, edited by Charles Capen McLaughlin (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), 355.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

4


The Meadow: Relationship to Overall Park Design ... the Park throughout is a single work of Art, and as such, subject to the primary law of every work of art, namely, that it shal1 be framed upon a single, noble motive, to which the design of al1 its parts, in some more or less subtle way, shal1 be confluent and helpfuJ.1 Olmsted and Vaux January, 1872

Because of the irregularity of the topography and the large rock outcroppings of the site, the design took advantage of the more level areas in order to achieve the desired pastoral effects, the remaining land to be developed in a more picturesque mode in accordance with its original topography. One of these important level areas was transformed into the North Meadow. In his introduction to The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Vol. III: "Creating Central Park", Charles E. Beverage states the fol1owing: Wherever possible, they designed "pastoral" scenery like that of private estates in England, interspersing broad expanses of gently rolling greensward with groves of trees and peaceful bodies of water. The terrain best suited for such treatment was in the upper park, above the new reservoir and the 97th Street transverse road. Accordingly, Olmsted and Vaux proposed to leave that section as free as possible from the distractions of "crossroads and other constructions"2 As mentioned above, Olmsted and Vaux not only worked these spaces into the overal1 scheme, they ini tia ted their design wi th the goal of creating pastoral meadows where they were at all possible, and then fil1ing in with other types of activity and scenery. According to the "Statistical Report of the Landscape Architect" (1875), "... [olf fair meadow surface unbroken by ledges and unshaded by trees, there are six spaces of one acre or more in extent, the whole of such surface on the Park being 55 acres."3 The report goes on to mention that in the North Meadow alone were located 19 acres. The perceived value of pastoral spaces as a relief from the scenery of the city was reinforced in this early account:

10l msted, Fortv Years, 248. 2Charles Capen McLaughlin, ed., The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Vol. 1Jl - "Creating Central Park," (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983), 17. 3Third General Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks for the Period of Twentv Months, From Mav 1st. 1872, to Dec. 31st. 1873 (New York: William C. Bryant & Co., 1875), 339,

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

5


Scenery of a purely pastoral character is no doubt the most valuable element of a park within the limits of a great city like New York, for no stronger contrast to the constrained and artificial condition of urban life can be imagined than meadow-like stretches of greensward which are not fenced in by rigid boundaries but fade away in obscure and shadowy distance. Broad open landscapes with spacious skies, and the sense of enlargement and freedom which they bring, offer the most pleasing contrasts to the hard confinement of city streets with their skyline of roofs and chimneys; the tranquilizing influence of soft, smooth, grassy surfaces is an unfailing refreshment from the wear and weariness, the strain and pressure of city life, with its strenuous effort and consuming ambition. 1 The importance of the meadows in the "Greensward" plan is evident in its very name. That the designers would have gone to such great lengths to provide as much open space as possible, and that the selecting committee would choose that design, illuminates the early significance of these spaces.

Meadow Design: The Upper Park The horizon lines of the upper park are bold and sweeping and the slopes have great breadth in almost every aspect in which they may be contemplated. As this character is the highest ideal that can be aimed at for a park under any circumstances, and as it is in most decided contrast to the confined and formal lines of the city it is desirable to interfere with it, by cross-roads and other constructions, as little as possible. Formal plantations and architectural effects, unless on a very grand scale, must be avoided; and as nearly all the ground between the Reservoir and 106th Street (west of the Boston Road) is seen in connection, from any point within itself, a unity of character should be studiously preserved in all gardening details.2 This description accompanied the "Greensward" proposal by Olmsted and Vaux. Figure #1 shows an original sketch submitted with the Greensward plan of the "Effect Proposed" in the North Meadow. The view, looking south, shows an open level area with \"hat appears to be a path along its border, the entire level area surrounded by various species of deciduous trees with evergreen trees along the west side, all set out in a most naturalistic manner. Olmsted's design methodology for dealing with these wide-open pastoral spaces was quite well thought out. In order to obtain the greatest effect from the limited space lWilliam A. Stiles, Garden & Forest, Vo!. i, May 9, 1888, in Parsons, The Art of Landscape Architecture (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915), 297. 2Frederick Law Olmsted, "Description of a Plan for the Improvement of The Central Park, 'Greensward;1858," in Olmsted, Forty Years, 214.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

6


available, Olmsted set out to make the borders of the meadows as indistinct as possible, leaving the extent of the vista up to the imagination of the viewer. Olmsted described this meadow design concept in 1872 as being "the formation of a series of broad, simple meadow surfaces, with, when practicable, such a disposition of umbrao-eous trees, without underwood, as would render their limits o undefined ... "l

Intended Use and Usership The primary purpose of the Park is to provide the best practicable means of healthful recreation, for the inhabitants of the city, of all classes 2

The original design competition program called for three playgrounds of from 3 to 10 acres each 3 In the Greensward Plan, the North Meadow was designed to be used as one of these. The central portion of the upper section of the park is left as open as possible, and can be levelled so far as may be required for the purposes of the playgrounds indicated on the plan, and on Study :\'0. 74 [See Fig. #8). Preliminary fears in the minds of some were that the park would cater to only one class of people, either rich or poor. The winning design put those fears to rest. s The perceived objective of Olmsted and Vaux was "to so provide for the recreative wants of the whole people, that each class might, as far as possible, suit its own particular taste in the matter, without interference from those of different tastes."6 The objectives were stated in a more negative manner by the Commissioners in 1859 when their report elaborated that "[n)o kind of sport can be permitted which would be inconsistent with the general method of amusement, and no species of exercise which must be enjoyed by a single class in the community to the diminution of the enjoyment of others. "7 The "general method of amusement" hereto referred is that of "scenic refreshment," and "activities that interfered with the quiet contemplation of scenery

lFrederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, "Examination of the Design of the Park and of Recent Changes Therein," in Two Letters to the President on Recent Changes and Projected Changes in the Central Park, to the Honorable H. G. Stebbins, President of the Department of Public Parks (New York, 1872), 38. 2From Second Annual Report. c.P.c., Jan. 1, 1859, in Olmsted, Fortv Years, 44. 30lmsted, Forty Years, 42. 40l msted, Forty Years, 230. SOlmsted, Forty Years, 44. 6A Guide to Central Park. bv an officer of the Park (New York: A. O. Moore and Co., 1859), 8. 70l msted, Forty Years, 407.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

7


",.'QuId have to be excluded, or the process by which scenery acted on the viewer most deeply could not operate."l The dominant and justifying purpose of Central Park was conceived to be that of permanently affording, in the densely populated central portion of an immense metropolis, a means to certain kinds of REFRESHMENT OF THE MIND AND NERVES which most city dwellers greatly need and which they are known to derive in large measure from the enjoyment of suitable scenery.2 According to Frederick L. Olmsted, Jr., the designers recognized the need for "secondary recreational functions." He wrote that Olmsted and Vaux believed these to be "attainable in considerable measure, under suitable limitations, without impairment of its dominant function of scenic refreshment."3 Among these secondary activities permissible, even planned for, in the park are "walking amidst pleasant surroundings", (as opposed to sitting and looking at scenery, I suppose), horseback riding (hence the bridle paths), and boating or skating upon the various bodies of water, depending on the time of year. At the same time, use of the lawns by children "was to be encouraged and promoted both for spontaneous unorganized plays and pageantry."4 Indeed, in 1861, Frederick Law Olmsted wrote a description of the Park in which he boasted that "Fifty acres in different parts of the park are prepared especially for the recreation of ball playing."o Yet this type of more intense activity was to be limited to children and youth who, by virtue of their size alone, would wreak less havoc on the turf, thereby successfully preserving the pasture-like meadovvs. Even their use was to be closely monitored.

Implementation of Design Within the narrow area of the park the broadest scope of open meadow that could be secured was considerably less than thirty acres. But the bordering woods were so depressed as to leave the boundaries uncertain and mysterious, and the turf was made to flow into sunny alcoves and about promontories of fOliage until it was lost in hazy shadows which suggested indefinite extent of the same restful scenery.6

lCharles E. Beverage, Introduction to McLaughlin, Papers. 19. 2Charles E. Beverage, Introduction to McLaughlin, Papers. 19. 30l msted, Fortv Years. 195. 40l msted, Forty Years. 195. SOlmsted, "Park", article from the New American Cyclopaedia, in McLaughlin, Papers, 355. 6S tiles, Garden & Forest. Vol. i (May 9, 1888), 297.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

8


Grading As there was relatively little work necessary to transform the original open land into the North Meadow, this area of the upper park was among the first areas to be completed, along with much of the lower park. References state that "[d)uring the year 1860, the [grading and shaping work) was chiefly carried on with reference to completing the grounds south of Eighty-fifth Street, and about thirty acres of ground north of the new reservoir, designated on the map F & G" [Fig.#9)1 Even by January of that year, the Superintending Engineer, William H. Grant, was able to describe the progress made on the North :-'1eadow: North of [Transverse Road :-Jo. 4), extending to One Hundred and Third street, and midway between the east and west boundaries of the park, two connected plateaus of turf, amounting to about eighteen acres, have, during the last year, been formed, (that being all the space which the rocky ledges leave available.) The roads and walks will pass along the more broken ground to the east, west and north of these 2 The map in Figure #9 illustrates the progress hereto referred. It is the first in a series of progress maps included with the annual reports. These drawings apparently began as topographic maps, the elevation lines removed as an area was completed. Figure #9 shows area "F" as an elevation of "75 6" and area "G" as "66 0". The walks and drives are shown as dotted lines, and the surrounding areas retain their topography lines. Whether these indicated elevations are averages over the meadow surface or spot elevations is not known, but it may perhaps be considered that the areas would be rather even (as opposed to rolling) to be indicated in this manner. A profile map (c.1860) shows that the meadow (area "F") along the line of Seventh Avenue is fairly level, after a rather sharp drop at 98th Street, with a major drop between 102nd and 103rd Streets [Fig. #10), Area "G", on the other hand, appears like a basin (in the exaggerated vertical scale) between about 99th Street and 103rd Street, along the line of Sixth Avenue.

Drainage Much of the park had to be drained before any other construction or planting could be undertaken, In his "Statement Respecting the Drainage of the Central Park", dated January 23rd, 1860, George E. Waring, Jr., acting in his capacity as Draining

lFifth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, January, 1862 (New York: Wm. C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1862), 99. 2Third Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. lanuary, 1860 (New York: Wm. C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1860),41.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

9


Engineer, gives Olmsted, then Architect concerning the North Meadow area:

111

Chief, the following progress report

In the upper Park, a main drain (JO in. vitrified pipe, and 18 in. brick sewer) has been laid from Eighth avenue to, and through the east meadow. The west meadow, and more than one half of the east meadow, have been thorough-drained. 1

Circulation System The North Meadow is circumscribed by a portion of the elaborate and ingenious circulation system in Central Park. The East and West Drives form the eastern and western boundaries of the ~orth Meadow and a connector drive forms the northern edge. These carriage drives, along with the bridle path and pedestrian walks form the circulation system [Fig. #11]. The carriage roads were constructed originally by one of three methods: the "Telford Road", the "McAdam Road", or a hybrid of the Telford method in which the foundation was the same but the road surface was of gravel instead of broken stone. 2 In the early development of the roads (c. 1858-60), the pavement consisted of a foundation of quarry stones 7" to 8" deep in the Telford manner. Broken stone was then spread evenly in successive layers and rolled to a depth of 5". Atop the broken stone, a layer of gravel was spread and worked into the interstices of the stone. The total depth was 12" to 13". Gutters along the drives were of quarry stones with an outer edge of "Hudson River bluestone"3 The McAdam road featured a 7" base of gneiss stone topped by a layer of the durable Park boulder stone. It was then surfaced with gravel and rolled in, total depth of 12" to 13".4 Later road construction (c. 1860-62) utilized gravel with rubble stone bases. rubble stone was obtained from the ordinary rock excavations in the Park. early example of recycling also proved to be cheaper and easier to maintain"

more for a This This

lThird Annual Report. 2William H. Grant, The Roads and Walks of the Central Park. Bein~ a Practical Description of Their Mode of Construction and of the Materials Used (Published expressly for the Metropolitan Fair, March, 1864),5. 3Grant, Roads. 6. 4Grant, Roads, 9. SGrant, Roads, 10.

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The original walks were composed of rubble and roughly broken stones, 8" deep, with approximately 3" of gravel firmly rolled on top [Fig.#12J. Tiles were used for underdrainage. 1 Where they were needed, gutters were formed either of sod (swales) or a more obvious quarry stone or Belgian block solution.

Existing Plant Materials Olmsted saw possibilities in the existing vegetation in the Upper Park. In his report "Particulars of Construction and Estimate, 1858" which accompanied the "Greensward" plan, No. 33, Olmsted stated the following: It will be observed that our plan makes at once available the greater part of

the trees and shrubs at present growing on the park site. In the upper park this is no inconsiderable advantage, for these trees, although valueless for transplanting, being, for the most part, grown from old stools, are, nevertheless, calculated to be healthy, and in every way satisfactory, if allowed to continue in connection with their parent roots until they have attained full size. 2

Transformations During Implementation By 1861 it was reported that "[t]he east and west meadows of the upper part of the park, between 97th and 103rd streets, embracing an area of thirty acres, have been drained, manured, plowed and seeded, and some contiguous ground graded during the past year. "3 A "Map of Central Park Showing Construction Completed as of Jan. 1, 1862" displays the drives, perimeter path, some trees, shrubs and outcroppings, but no topography lines, as are evident in other sections of the Park, except for one elevation line separating the southernmost third of the North Meadow [see Fig. #13]. South of this line, the paths are still dotted and no plantings are indicated. The Fifth Annual Report (862) mentions progress made in establishing turf on the North Meadow: [The] east and west meadows (F and G)[see Fig. #13], in the upper part of the Park, were sown with buckwheat, the green crops in each case being plowed in. The ground was then manured with horse-manure compost, and cross

lCrant, Roads, 21. 2Frederick Law Olmsted, "Particulars of Construction and Estimate, 1858" in Olmsted, Forty Years, 284. 3Report of the SpeCial Committee AppOinted to Examine into Condition, Affairs and Progress of the New York Central Park, transmitted to the Legislature January 25,1861 (Albany: Charles Van Benthuysen, Printer, 1861), 13.

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plO1ved and harrowed before the grass-seed was sown. The seed was raked in, stones and rubbish removed, and the ground smoothed with the horseroller. 1 The map for the year 1863 [Fig.#141 shows further progress: the northern portion is more fully planted, more of the walks and drives are completed, and some planting has taken place in the middle of the southern edge. The topography line noted above remains, but takes a slightly different shape toward the west. The planting in the area would continue. Around 1864 ~1r. Ignaz Gardener for the Park, wrote to Olmsted and Vaux the following:

r.

Pilat, Head

The planting is now nearly completed South of 104th Street, 8th Avenue, and of 97th Street, 5th Avenue. I am at present engaged in writing a descriptive catalogue of plants cultivated on the Central Park up to 1864 which I am informed is to be printed in connection with the annual report of the Commissioners.2 Included in the Eleventh Annual Report (1864) was his "Catalogue of Trees, Shrubs and Herbaceous Plants on the Central Park, December 31, 1863, with the months of Flowering and Fruiting of such as have conspicuous blossoms or fruits." This comprehensive list contains a multitude of plant species, but only locates a specimen of each. 3 The progress map for 1864 does indeed indicate that the entire North Meadow had been completed [see Fig.#151. An illustration of the Park from that year shows (at a rather acute angle) the area above the reservoir to be somewhat sparsely planted [Fig.#161. This could reflect reality or constitute artistic license. Subsequent maps continue to show work being accomplished in adjacent areas until 1866. In 1867 the plantings in the center of the North ~1eadow (the space dividing the East from West Meadows) as well as some of the perimeter plantings have been redravvn [see Fig.#171. There are fewer but larger plant materials indicated, perhaps due to a thinning program, of which Olmsted was a staunch supporter.

1Fifth Annual Report. 121. 20lmsted, Forty Years, 77. 3Eleventh Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park for the Year Endin~ December 31,1863 (New York: Wm. C. Bryant & Co., Printers, )864),91-123.

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III. Growth and Change - 1864 to 1934 The Upper Park All of that portion of the Park lying north of the New Reservoir is usually known as the Upper Park, but is connected with the Lower Park by the drive, bridle road, and foot-path. This section has not received the amount of elaboration that has been bestowed upon the Lower Park, but should not on that account be neglected by the visitor. The special objects of interest are not numerous; but the landscape has a bold, free character, the drives have longer sweeps and stretches, the elevations and depressions are more marked, and the views from the higher points abundantly reward the time, trouble, and strength consumed in seeking them.l This statement reveals much of the historic perception of the Upper Park and specifically the North Meadow. Much more material and certainly the vast majority of illustrations deal with the Lower Park, where a wealth of architectural features and a much more active and intensely used series of spaces provided subject matter for a multitude of artists and photographers. The only architectural feature in the original plan for the North Meadow is the Springsbank Arch, which carries the northern drive and bridle path over a walk and stream. Figure #18 shows the south face of the Arch in the early years of its existence. Figure #19 displays the northern face of the arch. The steps south of the arch are just visible through the tunnel. These steps are pictured more closely in Figure #20. \A/e do, nevertheless, have numerous written descriptions of the area and its progress. Olmsted and Vaux wrote the following in December of 1870: The impracticability of making, in either section of the Park, open spaces of greensward as large as desirable was recognized from the outset, but as much as possible was done to gain ground in this direction, and the central meadow stretches are the result in the upper Park. They supply two connected spaces, each about a quarter of a mile in extent, partially separated by a mass of rock and almost completely surrounded by a border of indigenous trees which are already beginning to take on umbrageous forms and to cast broad shadows over the now well-established turf. These meadows constitute the only broad space of quiet rural ground on the island which has been left undisturbed by artificial objects, and much labor has been expended to render practicable the preservation of their present general character. 2 These two connected spaces are referred to as the East Meadow and West Meadow, as mentioned earlier, on Park maps through 1868 [see Fig.#211. lThe Central Park Explained and Illustrated (New York: Devlin & Co., 1871), 24. 2Fred. Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Letter dated December 16th, 1870, in Olmsted, Fort)' Years, 504.

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During Olmsted and Vaux's on-again! off-again relationship with Central Park, it proved to be a major effort to keep the appearance of the North Meadow as it had originally been conceived. Olmsted wrote a letter to the President of the Department of Public Parks in 1872, regarding changes made during his recent absence. His writing included a description of the tree plantings around the meadow: On the borders of the open ground, where the indigenous trees required thinning, an additional number have in some cases been planted, and in others an improvement has been attempted by lopping off lower limbs in the manner before described, so as to lessen their umbrageousness and produce the character of street trees. 1 Mr. Olmsted then composed a "memorandum relating to certain work to be done, as soon as possible, under general direction of Mr. Demcker." The first instructions were as follows: 1. The North Meadows, the green and the Play ground, except where large rocks prevent, are to be bordered by scattered trees, singly and in small clusters or loose groups, all of kinds which will grow large and spread widely; that is to say with characteristic park trees. They are to be formed with low heads but not so low that sheep cannot graze under them. Oaks and such as have horizontal limbs should be trimmed with a trunk clean to height of about seven feet. Those which, like the American elm branch more obtusely upward, may be allowed to branch lower. Trees on these grounds which have been trimmed to long naked trunks are to be shortened in to force new lower branching. Groves of trees on the border of the meadows ... where either branches or roots are generally interlocking or likely soon to do so, are to be thinned to groups, clusters and single trees, with sufficient intervals to favor the desired general open park effect. In thinning those are to be spared when practicable which are likely to have long-lived, low branches; others, such as black oak and sassafras to be generally cut out. Where shrubs have been set in the borders of these open grounds, unless to screen out some inharmonious object (as a barren rocky knoll) they are to be removed. 2 Olmsted's insistence on thinning, not a popular notion with the public, later paid off, according to Olmsted himself, writing in 1889: ... a special force for thinning was allowed to be employed [c. 1874-75], and during an inclement season, when few visitors passed through the Park, lFrederick Law Olmsted, "Examination of the Design of the Park and of Recent Changes Therein," Letter II to the Honorable H. C. Stebbins, President of the Department of Public Parks (February, 1872), in Olmsted, Fortv Years, 267. 20l msted, "Memorandum" (J872?), in Fortv Years, 352.

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within less than a month's time, more trees were felled than there had been altogether, probably, in ten years before. The advantage gained where the thinning was most resolute is now conspicuous. It may be seen, for example, on the rising ground, between the two lobes of the North Meadow, the most park-like part of the Park .... 1 In the same report, Olmsted suggested more effective means of dealing with "ground not now shaded by trees." As an example, he cited a particular bordering area of the North Meadow: About a hundred paces east of the Springsbank Arch, on the south side of the road, there is a piece of ground of thin soil partly broken by rock, which is charmingly overgrown with low bushes and creepers. It has had much of its present pleasing character for at least twenty-five years, and in that time the annual cost of keeping it has not probably been a fiftieth part as much as the average annual cost of keeping an equal area of the open turf and high shrubbery-studded spaces of the Park. 2 In 1873, landscape architect Robert Demcker prepared "A List of Certain Classes of Plants on the Central Park in 1873." In the report he divided plants into the following groups:3 1. Deciduous Trees and Shrubs 2. Smooth Leaved Evergreen and American Plants 3. Coniferous Plants 4. Hardy Perennial and Alpine Plants 5. Exotic and Tender Plants Accompanying maps utilize symbols to locate different types of plant forms: deciduous trees are circular, evergreen trees a sort of asterisk symbol, and shrubs are shown by a more undulating shape. Each of the species indicated on the list is located on the maps by means of superimposed grids [see Fig.#22l. Unfortunately, the North Meadow is largely avoided in the lists, even where plants are located on the maps. From the report, however, we can get an idea of the plant materials used in various parts of the Park.

10l ms ted, "Observations on the Treatment of Public Plantations, More Especially Relating to the Use of the Axe" (Boston: T. R. Marvin & Son, Printers, 1889), in Olmsted, Fortv Years, 371-72. 20lmsted, "Observations," 374. 3Robert Demcker, "A List of Certain Classes of Plants on the Central Park in 1873," Appendix X in Third General Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks for the Period of Twenty Months, From Mav 1st. 1872, to December 31st. 1873 (New York: William C. Bryant & Co., 1875),352-462. Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

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We do have numerous accounts of the effect of the North Meadow at various times in its existence. The following account is given by Stiles in 1888. The view shown [see Fig. #231 is taken from a point overlooking the north meadow near 100th Street on the west side. The glimpse of distant turf seen under the branches of the group of trees in the centre of the opening in the wood border on the left, the skyline of trees in the distance, all suggest to the imagination a limitless extent of rural conditions. No object meets the eye of the observer to indicate that there is anything beyond but green pastures and tree-flecked meadows. 1 In 1891 Samuel Parsons penned the following description: Crossing over the 97th Street transverse road, ... we come to the great North Meadow of the park. It is a wonderful effect. Only nineteen acres, and apparently extending miles. The illustration [Fig. #241 gives a fair idea of it, but only as a picture can. The sheen of the grass, the varied tints of the foliage sweeping the turf to the left, the low-lying hillocks crowned with large forest trees, the great boulders entirely exposed or only half-submerged, the meadow beyond running back to seemingly unknown distances, - who v,ill picture it truly? There is dignity, there is breadth, repose, restfulness, and yet a sense of isolation that is not absolute. It is genuine park scenery that the eye is tempted to linger on and the foot to walk on, and presents, if viewed as a single feature, one of the best examples we have of good park-work 2 The two preceding illustrations [Figures #23 & 241 show a similar view, although it is probable that the latter precedes the former. Both show the slightly rolling topography of the meadow, although Figure #24 is a bit more undulating. Distant trees are so positioned that the eye may travel around them in search of farther distances, and specimen trees (particularly in Figure #24) have been trimmed to a park-like umbrage. Note the lines for tennis play and paths worn in turf in Figure #23. A map from this period (1890) shows many trees, some scattered through the center of the Meadow, and evergreens lining the Transverse Road and the western edge of the North Meadow, as well as many shrubs [Fig.#251. Parsons continued his glowing praise, stating that the best way to see the North Meadow is "on horseback from the bridle-path that runs round its entire extent. On the east side the bridle-path is completely embowered with trees, and from these you 1StiJes, Garden & Forest. Vol. i, May 9, 1888, in Parsons, The Art of Landscape Architecture (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915), 297. 2Samuel Parsons, Jr., Landscape Gardening (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1891),284.

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look out with peculiar enjoyment over the expanse of the North Meadow."1 According to Louis Harman Peet's report and annotated map of 1903 (an applicable portion of which is included as Appendix A), little more than a decade after the description above, these trees along the bridle path were embracing the foot-path which runs adjacent to and on the meadow (west) side of the bridle path. Undoubtedly their canopy would have covered the bridle path. In 1903 these trees consisted of the following:2 European Beech Silver Maple Vleeping European Silver Red Maple Sassafras Pin Oak Swamp White Oak European Silver Linden Shagbark Hickory

12 4 Linden 3 3 3 3 2 2

4

Hackberry Turkey Oak Sugar Maple Red Oak English Hawthorn Black Sugar Maple Sweet Birch Scarlet-frui ted Thorn

1 1 1 1 I 1 1 1

At this time the western border of the Meadow contained the following plants: 3

White Pine Staghorn Sumac Japan Cedar Pin Oak Red Maple Shadbush Scotch Elm Smoke Tree Silver Maple Austrian Pine

7

4 3 3 2 2 1 1 1 1

Flowering Dogwood Fragrant Honeysuckle American Hornbeam Hemlock Obtuse-leaved Japan Arbor Vitae VVitch Hazel Shagbark Hickory English Hawthorn Pignut Hickory

1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 1

In the area adjacent to Springsbank Arch and the extreme northern portion of the North Meadow the following plant materials are noted: 4 Pignut Hickory Black Cherry Pin Oak

2 1 1

American Hornbeam Black Haw Forsythia

1 1 1

] Parsons, Landscape Gardening, 290-91. 2Louis Peel, Trees and Shrubs of Central Park (New York: Manhattan Press, 1903), 284-86. 3Peet, Trees & Shrubs, 296-99. 4Peel, Trees & Shrubs, 296-99, 314-17. Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

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The southern portion (as much as notated, the eastern side only) contained the following plants in 1903: 1 Angelica Tree 4 Sassafras 2 Standish's Honeysuckle 1

Fragrant Honeysuckle Black Haw Arrowwood

1 1 1

A very good description of the visual effect of the North !\1eadow was written in 1915 by Samuel Parsons, retired Park Commissioner. He described the rolling landscape as follows: There is not a level spot on this meadow to all appearances; and when one thinks of it, the meadow or pastureland, the fundamental idea of a park, lawn, or meadow, is not level. A cricket, tennis, or bowling court is, but not a pasture field. ... It is the swell and swing of the surface coming now and then to a small ridge and then dying away into space that is almost level; it is the rise and fall, the becoming and dying away into the soft effect of the almost level. ... They are not only rolling but ridged up in long mounds at places as if fences had been removed from the pasture fields and the headlands left unleveled. 2

Changes in Objectives and Uses From the advent of Central Park, it seems there was an ongoing battle to keep at bay activities not in keeping with pastoral settings. As early as 1861, the Commissioners of Central Park, responding to ball clubs that "petitioned to usurp the broad green meadows," Made the following statement: It is obviously impossible that the ordinary play of these clubs should be allowed on the Park; the space is not sufficient. The Park has attractions to those that visit it, merely as a picture; people walk, and drive, and ride there, not only because the walks, and ride, and drive are superior, but because the eye is gratified at the picture that constantly changes with the movement of the observer. Whatever defaces or injures this picture makes it less attractive to the great mass of visitors, and should, for the general good, be excluded. The lawn, the flowers, the trees, the water, all combine to form this picture, and each adds to its attractiveness. If the trees are cut and broken, if the waters are stagnant, if the flowers are trampled, or if the grass is beaten down and tracked, the picture is in so much

lpeet, Trees & Shrubs. 284-86. 2SamueJ Parsons, Jr., The Art of Landscape Architecture: Central Park (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915),197.

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rendered unattractive, and the enjoyment of the great mass diminished. 1

1S

thereby

The following year, in the Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners, it was reported that there were more than fifty ball clubs in the city, each with about 50 members. Many of these clubs played on their own grounds which they also "kept in order at their own expense." Objections to having these clubs playing in Central Park were expressed in the report in the following statement: The constant play of a great number of cricket and ball clubs would be inconsistent with any other use of the ground, it would be impossible to keep it in order. The lawns would be rendered unsightly before one season passed.2 Later, in 1865, Andrew H. Green, Comptroller of the Park and Henry G. Stebbins, President of the Board of Commissioners restated their objections: It will be obviously impracticable to furnish grounds for the numerous ball

clubs that are desirous of playing on the Park. It seems difficult for them to realize that the large open surface of turf that, to the cultivated taste is among the most attractive features of the Park, can have any other use than that of a playground.

Nothing is more certain than that the beauty of these lawns would soon be lost, and that they would be rendered disagreeable objects, if these games were to be constantly played upon them. If the play of one club is allowed, others will demand the same privilege; and these clubs are so numerous, that if space were provided for the ordinary practice of their games, it would tend to depreciate the attractions of the Park to the far greater number who visit it for the refined pleasures that its landscape affords to those who are sensitive to natural beauties.

These spacious open glades will, with the growth of each successive year, present a more marked and grateful contrast with the planted parts of the grounds. It is not to be inferred that they are wastes without use because they are not ".ralked upon; both the plantations and the wide sweep of the lawn are essential to the completeness and the variety of the scene; their largest use is

JOlmsted, Forty Years. 407-8. 2Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, january 1862 (New York: Wm. C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1862),48.

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in the gratification they afford to those fitted for enjoyment of this nature; and this use is not to be diminished to accommodate sports, of themselves innocent and worthy of encouragement, but participated in by comparatively few persons. 1 In 1872, Olmsted and Vaux raised their objections to recent and planned changes in the Park by indirectly citing the three design principles of the Greensward plan: The first consideration ... in a truly critical study of the size, form, and place in the Park of any required construction for the accommodation of visitors was, originally, and always should correspond, as nearly as other considerations will permit, with the importance of the need it is designed to meet; this being measured, not only by its average value to each user, but with regard also to the number of those who will have occasion to use it. The second consideration is, that whatever serves to display an artificial construction required for the convenience of visitors is undesirable: 1st. In the degree in which the border-screen is required to be broken. 2d. In the degree in which the scope of meadow-surface is required to be broken. 3d. In the degree in which picturesque passages are required to be disconcerted. 2 Due to the popularity of skating on the ponds of Central Park in winter, F. L. Olmsted found it necessary to address the issue of outdoor exercise in 1874: It is not to be inferred from the great success that has attended the skating-

ponds, that similar general use of the playgrounds of the Park would be equally advantageous. It may seem but a very simple matter to throw open the grounds for use; but it is to be remembered that while ice is a substance which, when worn and cut out by the skaters, renews itself, and its surface can be refitted for use by inexpensive machinery, the tender verdure that constitutes the turf, when worn, is not readily restored to a condition that renders its appearance agreeable. Further than this, all the spaces of the Park that are available for playgrounds are limited in extent, and any use of them as playgrounds should be subordinate to the principal idea of the design, which is to provide an agreeable recreating ground for the whole community. If a considerable number of people of the city were impressed with the importance of out-of-door exercise for themselves and their children to a degree that would lead them to provide the opportunities for it at their own lNinth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. for the Year Ending December 31.1865, (New York: Wm. C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1866),46-47. 2Fred. Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, A Review of Recent Changes, and Changes which have been Projected, in th Plans of the Central Park (1872), in Olmsted, Forty Years, 252.

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cost and charges, the necessity for the park playgrounds would be largely diminished; but the taste for these out-of-door sports is but very limited, and it has been deemed proper so to regulate the use of this portion of the park as to stimulate and develop a taste for them. With this object in view, opportunities for the use of the playgrounds have been extended to the school-boys of the city [see Fig.#26), who ,,,ill be likely in after-life to keep up the habits they have formed at the Park, and become members of organizations whose accommodations are provided from their own means . .. , It was deemed impracticable to satisfy the requirements of the numerous

cricket, ball, and other adult clubs within the area of the Park, and at the same time preserve in the grounds an appearance that would be satisfactory to the much more numerous class that frequent the Park for the enjoyment of the refined and attractive features of its natural beauties. \Vhile it is ob\'ious that the practice of these clubs cannot be allowed in the Park without destroying some of its chief attractions, yet there is undoubtedly a degree to which play can be admitted. The problem is to ascertain this limit and to establish such regulations as will control it. 1 The same year, fearing increased encroachment upon the park by iniluences not in keeping with the ideals of its design, Mr. Olmsted urged the adoption of the following resolution: Resolved, That the Department will not give, set apart or rent any ground in the Central Park to be used by adults for any games or plays, and that children to whom permits are issued shall be allowed to use the grounds set apart for them only when this may be done, in the judgement of the Superintendent, without injury to the turf, and under suitable restrictions and police controJ.2 Attempting to deal with this issue in respect to the integrity of the turf, Mr. Olmsted concludes his "Report on Turf", dated May 18th, 1875, with the following statement. I believe that it would cause the least privation to the public and the least dissatisfaction to suspend ball playing and croquet playing and the usual Saturday and Sunday free range over all the turf of the South Park during the present year. The North Meadows might be prepared for the use of the school boys while the ballground is recrui ting 3 1Tenth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park for the Year Ending December 31. 1866 (New York, Wm. C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1867), 34-36. 20l msted, Forty Years. 422. 3F. L. Olmsted, "Report on Turf" to Hon. H. G. S., President (May 18th, 1875), in Olmsted, Forty Years, 432.

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So, was Olmsted himself the first to suggest using the North !l1eadow for ball fields? Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr., in retrospect, concluded that baseball playing was "one of the by-products definitely expected to result from the large open meadows designed primarily for scenic enjoyment", but went on to explain the realities of the situation: It was quite deliberately concluded that with a population as large as would become tributary to Central Park it was wholly impossible to make provision in it for the entire youthful part of that population to enjoy continuously as much as they might like of baseball playing or other active sports involving hard wear and tear on the ground surface, or to make provision for a large amount of space per capita, without radically subordinating to those ends the dominant scenic purpose of the Park . ... If it had been considered a legitimate charge upon the funds of the Central Park Commission to provide such un-parklike fields for intensive play, the million dollars spent for extending the original area of the Park northward to 110th Street would logically have been spent in acquiring several separate play fields in adjacent parts of !l1anhattan, v.. here each would have been closely surrounded be the population it was to sen'e and would have caused less interruption of the street system. 1

This statement may be an oversimplification of the situation. Certainly most thinking persons are grateful that the Park's shapers had the foresight to include the area from 106th Street to 110th Street. However, it would have been helpful toward the preservation of the verdant qualities of the North Meadow, as well as providing ease of access to the users, if more neighborhood space could have been allocated to ball fields and other recreations. The following passage, under the heading "Proposed Appropriations of Ground for Buildings, Statues and other Objects," appears in the Third General Report of the Board of Commissioners (1875): The value of Central Park lies chiefly in the opportunity which it is expected to afford of a quiet rural retreat from the city, which shall still be near at hand to most of its inhabitants when their number shall be much larger than at present. Its important elements in this respect are the spaces of open turf ground, the trees bordering them, and the subordination of artificial objects to general rural effects in its landscapes. There is a constant demand from persons \"ho do not appreCiate the value of the Park in this respect, or who do not realize the conditions on which it is dependent, for the introduction of objects upon it or the appropriation of small portions of its territory for what are deemed to be, and in most cases 10lmsted, Fortv Years, 196-97.

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justly, desirable public purposes, but of which the effect would be an injury in greater or less degree with reference to its paramount purpose. 1 One of these injurious objects was introduced by 1908. Known at various times as the Farm Building, the Recreation House and the North Meadow Security Center, it appeared on the promontory in the middle of the south portion of the meadow [see Fig.# 31] where it stands guard to this day. This low stone building is completely out of step with the original goals for the meadow pastoral space - to shut out all that is artificial and provide a rural atmosphere in which to be rejuvenated.

Lawn Tennis Tmvard the latter part of the nineteenth century, a surge of interest in playing lawn tennis led to this type of encroachment on the North Meadow. The vast lawn here, as well as in the "South" meadow where permanent hard courts were later established, was laid out with limed boundary lines and employed temporary netting and posts 2 [See Figs. #27-#30]. In May the bright costumes of numerous tennis players enliven its surface and attract many interested spectators. But to me it is more attractive when it lies in unbroken rest in the shimmering atmosphere of an autumn day with the red and gold of the maples and hickories framing and brightening its greensward. 3 The Annual Report for 1914 mentions work done under "Improvement of Tennis Courts, North Meadow, Central Park:"

the heading

During the year under review, a new tennis field providing 30 additional courts was opened in Central Park. A foundation of old gravel excavated from the West Drive was spread in layers and rolled to ultimate compaction. 4 The report further states that 38 courts had already been laid out in the Sheep Meadow.

lThird General Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks for the Period of Twenty Months, From May 1st. 1872, to Dec. 31st. 1873 (New York: William C. Bryant & Co., 1875), 13. 2Reed, Central Park, 125. 3Samuel Parsons, Jr., Landscape Gardening (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1891), 286. 4The City of New York Department of Parks Annual Report - 1914, 20.

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Foiled Encroachment Proposals A Zoo "On October 4, 1870, the Commissioners selected forty-eight acres of meadow land north of Ninety-seventh street for Zoological Gardens .... "1 This action did not at all please some people, foremost being Olmsted himself. In a letter dated December 16th, 1870, Olmsted and Vaux, not associated officially with the Park from November 1870 to November 1871, nevertheless offer their opinion: At the meeting of the Department of Public Parks, on November 22nd, a change in the plan of the Central Park was agreed upon, for the purpose of introducing accommodations for the Zoological collection of the city upon the ground known as "the Meadows," in the upper Park, and provision was made for the design and execution of the necessary constructions . ... A Zoological Garden must be made up to a considerable extent, if not altogether, of small scattered buildings and small fenced yards, it requires little breadth or unity of surface in its site, and it must be adapted to recreation of a completely diverse character from that which this ground has been prepared to serve. It would therefore, in our judgement, be a fatal mistake to plant a ceaselessly growing institution of this kind even on the borders of the ground in question. 2 Construction of the Zoo may actually have commenced, in spite of a 1911 report that "the plan v"as abandoned in November, 1871."3 Olmsted writes the following account in 1872: The Department has begun the erection of a large series of buildings, which is intended to be followed by the construction of a series of small yards, of walks between them, and of lines of trees following these walks [a description of a zoo?], upon the largest meadow of the Park [the North Meadow]. The first of the houses may be seen, exteriorly nearly complete, about 400 yards south of Mt. St. Vincent. The meadow is intended to entirely disappear and in defending its course (pgs, 23 & 280, Annual Report) the late administration has not considered the landscape value of this opening worth mentioning. 4

116th Annual Report. 1911. of the American Scenic & Historic Preservation Society, 488. 20l msted & Vaux, letter in Olmsted, Fortv Years, 504-5. 316th Annual Report. 488. 40lmsted & Vaux, "Examination of the Design of the Park and of Recent Changes Therein", in Two Letters to the President on Recent Changes and Projected Changes in the Central Park, to the Hon. H. G. Stebbins, President of the Department of Public Parks (New York, February 1872),39.

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The following year, Olmsted would layout the sequence of events concerning the plans for a zoo, concluding with the fact that the plan to build the zoo on the North Meadow was "set aside, for the reason that it involved the complete diversion from its original purpose of the best part of the Central Park." He goes on to say that "[a] large building which was nearly completed was ordered to be removed and the ground restored to its former condition."1

A World's Fair The North Meadow has been suggested repeatedly for various functions and constructions for which it was never intended. In 1881 and again in 1889, the North Meadow was suggested as a "fitting site" for the World's Fair. 2 Some interesting ideas came with the proposal: An effort was made to stage the Columbian Exposition in Central Park, a prospect that was welcomed by the mayor and park commissioners, one of whom had the brilliant idea of digging up all the trees on North \1eadow, planting them temporarily in another spot, then moving them back at the conclusion of the fair.3 Another proposal called for the "establishment of a swimming bath, a wading pool, ... and a nursery on the North Meadow, but it met with so much opposition that it was not pushed. "4

Deteriorating Conditions According to Frederick La", Olmsted, Jr. and Theodora Kimball, wntmg in 1927, "[t]he deterioration of Central Park with respect to soil and trees became so marked in 1900, that the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society" commissioned a "critical examination of the Park."5 Another study was done in 1902 and again in 1910,6 apparently with no follow-up on the recommendations.

10lmsted & Vaux, letter to the Han. S. H. Wales, President of the Board (October 11th, 1873), in Olmsted, Fortv Years. 506. 2Henry Hope Reed and Sophia Duckworth, Central Park - A Historv and a Guide (New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1967), 125. 3M. M. Graff, Central Park & Prospect Park - A New Perspective (New York: Greensward Foundation, Inc., 1985),59. 416th Annual Report (1911), 486. 50lmsted, Forty Years. 167. 60lmsted, Forty Years, 167-68.

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In his "Report on Soils, Etc., in Central Park, New York City," Gustavus B. Maynadier reviewed conditions in and around the North ~1eadovv in 1911 with the following account: Under drainage is needed in the ball ground, the green, and the north meadow particularly .... In the case of those lawns which have been subjected to an undue amount of trampling, as a result of their use for baseball, tennis, etc., at times when the ground is too wet, there has been developed a puddled condition of the soil just below the zone occupied by the grass roots, that seriously interferes with the downward passage of the rain as it falls, as well as with the upward movement of the water that eventually penetrates it. Owing to the generally level topography of these areas, the off-flow by surface drainage is slow and the condition of the soil causes the surplus water to remain standing in many places on these lav.:J1s for a considerable time. 1 In a 1911 report by the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society, the writer laments the condition of the park and also the suggested intrusions: Not only is the park rundown physically, but during the past year propositions for such innovations as the straightening of winding paths, the construction of wading pools, the introduction of boisterous games like base ball ... etc., have multiplied to such an extent that the people of the city hardly know what will be proposed next or what of these diverse propositions, which are incongruous with the conception and purpose of Central Park, will be adopted. 2 By the time Hermann IV. Merkel wrote his "Report on Survey of Central Park with Recommendations" in 1927, conditions had worsened to the point that there was a groundswell of public and private support for the rejuvenation of the Park: In recent years the Fifth Avenue Association has warmly espoused the cause of Park rehabilitation, and together with the Merchants Association and especially the Central Park Association ["formed in 1926 for the defence of the Park 'as a step towards public cooperation with city officials"'], has had a large share in successfully convincing the Board of Estimate and Apportionment of the precarious state of the Park. The objects of the expenditure of the $1,000,000 announced as appropriated are at the present time being sympathetically studied 3 In his account, Mr. Merkel stated the following concerning the North Meadow: 1Gustavus B. Maynardier, Report on Soils, Etc., in Central Park, New York Citv, submitted May 15, 1911 to the Hon. Charles B. Stover, Commissioner of Parks, Boroughs of Manhattan and Richmond. 216th Annual Report,(1911), 78. 30l msted, Fort)' Years, 168.

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Many of the lawns in the northern portion of the Park, are showing utter neglect and lack of mowing. They have become meadows in which the bunch grasses have replaced lawn grass. In some instances (mentioned in the detailed report), it will be necessary to plow, fertilize and re-seed these area in their entirety.1 Mr. Merkel later recommends a lawn mixture of "100 lbs of extra recleaned Kentucky blue grass, and 3 lbs of white clover" as a way to get a "permanent lawn of good dark green," claiming that "ultimately it will make a strong tough sod which will withstand more hard usage than any other known to me"2 In his report, ?\1r. Merkel has some specific observations and suggestions for the North Meadow area: [The North Meadow], being used for a playfield, is practically bare of grass, looks very patchy and disreputable. It would be much better if this was plowed, treated and re-seeded and then laid out in proper diamonds and maintained as a ball field in this way. Though the regular lines of a diamond are not a thing of beauty in themselves, they are much to be preferred to the patchy condition resulting from haphazard playing in this or that portion of the field. That baseball diamonds can be maintained even under intense use with greensward everywhere except in the infield between bases, has been proven many times. The wall of the service yard should have considerable planting around it; if nothing else a cover of vine would be preferable to its present bare condition toward the west. The southern end of this parcel also should be kept free from public use and replanted, especially as to the hillsides. The isolated trees on this field need protection badly; and in the arrangement of the diamonds and other play activities, the presence of these trees should be taken into consideration. Backstops of copper-weld mesh are the best; the weather turns them green and they cannot be seen from a short distance. The big tulip tree in this field directly north of the Service Yard, while not in the prime of life, would still last many years with proper care. At the present time it is being abused by the fact that there is a heavy wire guy leading to a derrick in use in the yard, has been fastened thereto without any protection 1Herrnann W. Merkel, Report on Survey of Central Park with Recommendations (1927), 10. 2Merkel, Report, J 1.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

27


on the tree. This is carelessness and vandalism that should not be permitted, and is the worse because apparently done by Park Department employees. The beech just north of the tulip is in a bad condition for lack of care; should be protected as well as pruned and fed. The small group of oaks recently planted north of the yard needs cultivation; is otherwise in fairly good shape. I would recommend however that guards be placed on all these trees as some of them have been badly abused. 1 Merkel felt compelled to address not only the conditions of the Park, but also the use age issues which led to these conditions. At the time, he opined that recent changes in programming in the Park may have spared the :\forth Meadow: Among the innovations which are really encroachments upon the original design, there may be mentioned the playground in the southern end of the park, and the tennis courts just north of the reservoir. Both of these are much used features, and for that reason appear to justify their existence; and while to some extent an inharmonious element, yet they present no menace to the integrity of the design. In fact, I feel that the establishment of the playground in its present form has been a relief to the meadow to the north, which may now be maintained as a lawn, and which in the years preceding the establishment of the playground, was far from beautiful in aspect, being often bare in many large sections, and so trampled in the remainder, that the grass would burn out before the end of the season . ... Though a diligent search has been made for other places where similar areas which would accommodate a large number of people, can be established, I have not been able to find any, and would most strongly urge that demands for the establishment of other large areas of bare ground like the playground and tennis courts, with their incongruous fences and apparatus, be denied, no matter how great the pressure of such demands may be. 2 Later in the same report, Merkel addressed the need for recreational space in New York City: Probably the greatest recreational need existing today in New York City, are Playgrounds, which the shortsightedness of former City planners has prevented from being established. The demand for such recreational space is 1Merkel, Report. 46-7. 2Merkel, Report. 7.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

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therefore enormous, and the pressure brought upon park commissions in the past has been very great, but it will not do to lose sight of the fact that neither the topography nor the design of Central Park make possible the use of this precious bit of rural art for the establishment of more large playgrounds, except in the one location mentioned later. The only large available land still in existence in Central Park, and now used largely for playground purposes, is the North Meadow, and anyone who has seen this field within recent years will know that it cannot longer be called a "meadow" or lawn by any stretch of the imagination. [The 1925 aerial photograph in Figure #32 verifies this description.] Nearly one-half of its expanse consists of bare ground, eroded and dug up, the while creating an eye sore rather than the magnificent picture of years ago; and in order to restore this picture, it is absolutely necessary that the :-1eadow be rebuilt and restored into a lawn and used for play purposes only as long as the lawn can be kept from deterioration, and then withdrawn from public use as a playfield until it has completely recovered . ... There is just one place in Central Park in my opinion that can be made into a playfield without detriment to the rest of the Park, and this is the south or receiving reservoir which I understand is no longer used, or at least needed by the Water Department for reservoir purposes. Approximately 750 ft. by 1,500 ft. of the site of this reservoir would be available as a playfield, when abandoned as a reservoir, without great detriment to the Park as a whole. This would give a play surface larger than the north meadow and can be designed to include playfields for special purposes, at the same time leaving room for groups of trees, etc., to give shade and enhance the beauty and consequently the value of the field. 1 Discussing the ongoing battle betlveen active recreation and passive scenic refreshment, F. L. Olmsted Jr. and T. Kimball made the following observation: The problem of intensive athletic activities proportionate to the demand, and of other activities incompatible with the effective maintenance of the refreshing quality of the Park scenery, is not so easily met. A wise solution depends on a frank recognition of the real incompatibility of these opposing objectives as dominant purposes within a scenic park, upon measuring the price of prOViding for these opposing objectives in varying degrees by other means, and on deliberately concluding whether they are worth that price, or if not whether they are at all worth the sacrifice of the dominant objectives which have controlled and alone have justified the enormous present investment in the Park.2 1Merkel, Report. 17. 20lmsted, Forty Years. 204. Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

29


Work soon began on the North 1I1eadow rehabilitation. An irrigation plan was drawn up in 1928 [Fig.#33]. In 1929 the North Meadow was still used as a playground - an entry in the Annual Report of the Department of Parks for that year lists the North Meadow under Park Playgrounds: 1 North Meadow - 100th St. and West Drive 30.459 Acreage: Attendance: July August

13,915 5,000

This report defined the term "Playground" to mean "a play space with or without apparatus or equipment and habitually used under some form of direction for children's play."2 Then, in 1930, the Annual Report mentioned plans prepared by the Bureau of Landscape Architecture for "converting the North Meadow in Central Park into an Athletic Field."3 These drawings have not been located at this time, and may have been destroyed during the reign of Robert Moses [1934-1960]4 along ,,,ith so many other plans and documents. An aerial photograph from that year shows the North Meadow with bare patches and the overwhelming visual presence of the Farm BUilding [Fig.#34]. Again in the Annual Report of the Department of Parks [01'1931, the statistics for the North Meadow, listed under "Playgrounds," are the same as those cited for 1929. 3 There is also an entry under "Bureau of Landscape Architecture" listed as "Play Centre, North Meadow, Central Park."6 Although it is not clear to what this citation refers, it is probably a reference to plans or projects for the year. A 1931 aerial photograph shows the North Meadow to be much lighter in color than the East Meadow, and appears to be the same shade of gray as the fill in the middle of the Old Reservoir [Fig.#35]. This could indicate the construction of the ball fields. In this Annual Report, the following entry is found under the heading of "Rehabilitation, Central Park": 1Annual Report of the Department of Parks, Borough of Manhattan (New York: F. Hubner & Co., Inc., 1929), 107. 2Annual Report (]929), 109. 3Annual Report of the Department of Parks, Borough of Manhattan (New York: F. Hubner & Co., Inc., 1930),8. 4Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park. 56. 5Annual Report of the Department of Parks, Borough of Manhattan (New York: F. Hubner & Co., Inc., 1931),67. 6Annual Report (!931), 7.

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The recommendations in the so-called Merkel Survey and Report were carried out under the supervision of Mr. Jules V. Burgerin, Landscape Architect for the Park Board, and the work is practically completed. 1 Published reports ,vere suspended in 1932, but in an effort to discover just when the ball fields were installed on the North Meadow, the General Files for the years 1933 and 1934 were studied at the Municipal Archives in New York City. This investigation turned up references under various headings: 2 Central Park Recreational Areas North Meadow - Baseball, Hockey, Football 100th St. - West Drive Baseball Diamonds ?\forth Meadow Central Park - 102nd St. - 10 diamonds Hockev Fields :'<orth Meadow - Central Park ... 1 field Soccer Fields ?\forth Meadow - 2 Football Fields 1\'orth Meadow - 2

lAnnual Report (931). 2Department of Parks & Recreation, General Files, 1933-1962, "Administration - Photographs to Playgrounds", 1934.

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IV.

Robert Moses Era - 1934 to 1960

Societal Influences A 1934 report, "Recreation in our Public Parks" by an unknown author, was discovered in the course of this research in the General Files of the Department of Parks and Recreation. In it the writer unfolds the situation facing the City at that time: Outdoor recreation for the child, the youth and the adult has become one of the most important problems of our City Fathers. A recreational program which reaches out imd functions among children and adults is most essential for a healthy childhood and a virile manhood and womanhood in a large city such as New York. The importance of recreation is well known to all educators, social workers and, in fact, to the general public at large. Surveys and statistics in various cities prove the contention that playgrounds mean fewer street accidents, less juvenile delinquency, better children, and a better citizenship. In the past, this Department was handicapped due to the fact that it did not have satisfactory facilities which appealed to all age groups. Not only children of pre-school age but the kindergarten child, the adolescent boy and girl and also the adult must have their time for relaxation and play.] The report goes on to point out some additional causes for the increased attention to adult athletics in the 1930s: Recreation is now important not only for the child but also for the adult. Due to the N. R. A. and the shorter working hours and the unemployment situation, people have time for recreation who never gave this matter a thought previously. Although in many cases it might be called enforced leisure, yet if is far better to encourage people to take part in a wholesome recreational program consisting of athletics, sports, tournaments. and the use of game rooms and club rooms. 2 Under the heading "Industrial Leagues and Tournaments" the author states the following:

1Department of Parks and Recreation, "Recreation In Our Public Parks," General Files, 1933-1962, Folder #33 - 1934. 2D. P. R., "Recreation," 7.

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A definite policy has been established in the Department of Parks to cooperate with department stores and other commercial organizations who are interested in sponsoring athletic activities for their employees. Arrangements are made for the promotion of industrial baseball tournaments, soccer tournaments and basketball tournaments . ... Approximately 500 commercial organizations in ):\;ew York City make application annually for permits for the use of recreational areas under the jurisdiction of the Department of Parks.1

Robert Moses' Approach Permanent facilities - playgrounds and court for hardball, shuffleboard, bocci and basketball - had not yet been imposed on the Greensward Plan, but this situation would change with the long, influential tenure of Robert :'I10ses as New York City Parks Commissioner. 2 Galen Cranz recently wrote his views on the approach taken by :'I10ses' contemporaries: In the 1930s park administrators abandoned their idealistic efforts to use parks as a mechanism of social reform. In New York City the reform period clearly terminated in 1930, with the appointment of Robert Moses as park commissioner. Moses' first annual report was a sentinel: "V'le make no absurd claims as to the superior importance and value of the particular service we are called on to render, and we realize that budget making is a balancing of comparative needs of numerous competing agencies."3 Robert Moses came along at a time when public sentiment leaned toward the desire for active recreation, and he took on the task of providing it with enthusiasm. Moses' first Report (1940): "Playgrounds are not impressive as to acreage but are tremendously important in the recreational scheme. Large park areas do not solve the problem of neighborhood recreation, which should be readily accessible to people who can't travel any great distance for fresh air, rest or play."4

1D. P. R., "Recreation," 8. 2Elizabeth Barlow Rogers, Rebuildint> Central Park - A Management and Restoration Plan (Cambridge, Mass.: The MlT Press, 1987), 12. 3Calen Cranz, The Politics of Park Design (Cambridge, Mass.: The MlT Press, 1982), 101. Note for this quote attributes "New York City, Department of Parks, Six Years of Park Pro~ (J940), p.3. This was the first annual report published in New York after Moses became president of the Park Commission in 1934. Most cities stopped publication of annual reports during the Depression and resumed sometime during the war." 4Six Years of Park Progress (New York: Department of Parks, 1940), 15.

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Moses' view on the value of playgrounds and of open space in parks could be interpreted from the following passage from the Department of Parks report in 1940: In Central Park the lawns and landscaped areas were being torn to pieces by active children [in 1934]. The problem was largely solved by placing eighteen marginal playgrounds near the entrances to the park, providing children with healthy play which took the place of thoughtless destruction. In rehabilitated parks, wherever necessary, definite areas were set aside for baseball, football, soccer and other open field sports. Hundreds of acres of formerly idle lands were thus made usefuJ.1 Discussing the physical changes in Central Park over which Moses presided, Elizabeth Barlow Rogers recently wrote the following passages: Unlike Olmsted and Vaux, [Moses] did not see the Park as a series of naturalistic scenes nestled in the heart of the busy city. He was a reformer and a builder. He built compactly scaled, soundly constructed and often whimsically ornamental recreational facilities. It was an ingratiating approach. Droves of delighted New Yorkers applauded his touches of fantasy and fun and the very real recreational opportunities he brought them . ... While most of the playgrounds and other facilities that Moses added have had enthusiastic constituencies, they were inserted into the Park with little consideration for the framework of the original plan. ;\'ot only did the new elements destroy some of the Park's most carefully conceived views; they created circulation problems as wel!.2 Although plans for the ballfields in the North Meadow were in motion before Robert Moses became Parks Commissioner in 1934, he did preside over the final installation. A topographic map dated July 12, 1935 shows the shape of the landscape and the location of the fields [Fig.#36]. A 1935 aerial photograph shows what appears to be ball fields under construction [Fig. #37]. The ,vestern portion (the old West Meadow) contains three completed fields and the remaining ones seem to be under construction. Figure #38 shows the walks constructed in the North Meadow by 1935 (revised in 1941), many of which exist today, particularly in the eastern half of the meadow. Photographs in Figures #39 and #40 (1937 and 1938 respectively) give a clear view of the completed ballfields in their original back-to-back configuration. The same lSix Years of Park Progress (New York: Department of Parks, 1940), 16. 2Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park. 12路13.

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cloverleaf pattern is shown in a 1951 aerial photograph [Fig. #41]. Presently it is not known what the purpose of the small outbuildings was which clearly appear in Figure #39 north of the Recreation House. An aerial photograph of the North Meadow in 1982 presents the current ballfield layout [Fig. #42]. Just when this change occurred is not known, but it may be considered a vast improvement over the cloverleaf designs which previously dominated the central portions of each meadow.

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V.

Post-Moses Period - 1960 to Present

Conditions There are numerous appraisals of the North Meadow by various authors in the post-Moses eras. The first of those eras is marked by a decided decline in the condition of the Park in general, including the greensward in the upper park. The following assessment was made in 1967, while giving a walking tour: Following the creek the promenader comes to the 10\'1' Springsbank Arch, carrying the bridle path and an abandoned portion of the drive o\'er the walk. ... Continuing through Springs bank Arch, the promenader goes up some steps and finds himself on the edge of the North Meadow. With its baseball diamonds and hurricane-wire fencing it is one of the more acti\'e sports grounds in the park. [See Fig. #43] . ... In [the late 19th century] the meadow, the largest one in the park, was thickly carpeted with Kentucky Blue Grass, replaced today by a mixture of NK100 Perennial Rye, a hardy, quick germinator, and Fescue (like a dry martini, four to one). The meadow takes a hard beating as football follows baseball and the athletes wear cleats, formerly forbidden. Despite the use, the turf stands up surprisingly well when aerified, watered and limed. During Olmsted and Vaux's time, adults were not allowed to play baseball in the park. At that time, the park was not seen as the proper place for active recreationists. The first baseball diamonds appeared in the North !l1eadow in the 1920's, the present number with the extensive fencing belong to the 1930's era and have destroyed the original concept of an unbroken stretch of pastoral meadow. Hurricane-wire fencing, particularly in quantity, bligllls the landscape . ... The promenader may be surprised to learn that until the 1930's no asphalt walks crossed the meadow north-south at this point; their absence explains \vhy the turf had such a sweep in the 1890's. This fine vista, however, was not always fully appreciated; the North Meadow was proposed in 1881, and again in the 1890's, as a fitting site for the World's Fair. This was due, in part, to the relatively little use the Northern Section of the park received until the present century with the northward move of population .... The building directly to the south was formerly the Farm Building; in the 1930's it was converted into a Recreation Building, chiefly for old men.

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Handball courts adjoin it on the north. The structure is very badly sited and designed, wholly out of keeping with the Olmsted and Vaux ideaJ.1 As has been historically the case, not nearly as much has been written about the North Meadow as the southern portion of the park. In one case, a 1979 publication sponsored by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy, Rebuilding Central Park for the 1980s and Beyond, does not even mention the North Meadow, although there are plans and suggestions for every other area of the park. 2 Whether out of desperation at the situation or a great oversight, the exclusion of the North Meadow is unfortunate.

Central Park Conservancy The Central Park Conservancy was founded in 1980. Its primary mission is "to find private financial backing for innovative programs and projects that cannot be done with city funds." The C. P. C. also exists to "provide firm guardianship to Central Park to help ensure that it never again becomes as abused, deteriorated and indifferently managed as it was in the 19705. "3

Recent Impressions A 1985 viewer's opinions are as follows: Beyond the 97th Street transverse, the contrast is jarring: the original seclusion of East Meadow is laid fully open to the eye, while on the west side, walls of chain link fence make North Meadow look like the exercise yard of a prison - a far cry indeed from the designers' avowed intention of pro~'iding "a sense of enlarged freedom" for visitors to the park.4 ... Baseball fences bar the general public use of North Meadow or even the enjoyment of seeing its spread of rolling grassland [see Fig. #44). It is effectively isolated from the park landscape. s One final description is the most recently published (1987):

J Henry Hope Reed and Sophia Duckworth, Central Park - A History and a Guide (New

York: Clarkson N. POller, Inc., 1967), 122-25. 2New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Consery aney, RebuildinQ Central Park for the 1980s and Beyond, (1979). 3Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park , 17. 4M. M. Graff, Central Park-Prospect Park: Foundation, Inc., 1985), 50. 5 Graff, Central Park, 128.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

A New Perspective (New York:

Greensward

37


The original Greensward Plan called for a loose configuration of trees!!t the edges of meadows in order to give the impression of receding lawns rather than ones that terminate abruptly. The latter effect, unfortunately, now prevails. The individual specimens and loose clumps of trees that once gave the meadows an illusion of indefinite space have been cut back to make room for ball fields and tennis courts. Meanwhile, the trees behind them have been filled in, creating solid walls of green 1 [See Fig. #45].

Usership A 1983 user study pointed out that "anything that could be done to upgrade the facilities here and to extend the capacity of the sports fields would be worth serious study."2 Given the fact that the preponderance of visitors are passive users of the landscape, the management and restoration plan recommends improving and maintaining those fields already in existence and not building any more a policy consistent with wishes expressed in interviews conducted as part of the 1982 User Study. Not one respondent asked for more ball fields, just better ones. 3 On any given weekend during warm weather, some 2000 softball players occupy all the designated ball diamonds from the Heckscher fields to the North Meadow. At other times, these areas are only partly used. 4 One study "shows a good deal of passive recreation directly adjacent to the most actively used sports facilities," including the fields of the :\'orth Meadow, proof once again that "one group's exercise is another's entertainment."s Play on the :\10rth Meadovv requires permits from the Parks Department, but is allowed regardless of ground conditions. 6 The ball fields of the North Meadow are ... heavily favored by males living in nearby Manhattan neighborhoods.?

I Rogers,

Rebuildin~

Central

2Rogers,

Rebuildin~

Central

Park, 59. Park, 104.

3Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park, 31. 4Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park, 26. 5Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park, 27. 6Rogers, Rehuildin~ Central Park, 104. 7Rogcrs, Rehuilding Central Park, 26.

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The North Meadow and the Great Lawn rarely see any activity other than intensive active sports, which take a great deal of space for relatively few people.)

I Rogers, Rebuilding Central

Park, 65.

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VI.

Conclusions and Recommendations

Summary The North :'-.1eadow has not been altered drastically throughout its history, as changes go. After all, it could now be the site of the Central Park Zoo. It has, however, suffered the slings and arrows of various well-intentioned but singleminded groups with but one purpose, without interest in the overall function of the park. The Meadow, being open space capable of being transformed into a pastoral scene, was one of the most important influences on the 1858 "Greensward" plan of Olmsted and Vaux. Landscape designers of the period strove to provide these rolling green spaces in a park setting, insisting that this was the highest ideal. Everything else in the plan worked around and with the meadow spaces, of which the North :'-.1eadow was the largest. The North :'-.1eadow was intended as a playground for children and a scenic retreat for adults. From its inception, the deSigners (et. al.) stressed the importance of maintaining these spaces free of artificial constructions and boisterous activity. However, the pressures from some groups to allow these intrusions began even as the park was being built, and increased as the Park matured. Unsuccessful attempts were made to build the Central Park Zoo (1870) and a \",Torld's Fair (1881 and 1889) on this site. Tennis playing on the North Meadow became very popular around the turn of the cen tmy. The most persistent intrusion was from organized sports, specifically baseball. The battle-lines went up between the ball clubs and those who would preserve the integrity of the space. It was a long war, stretching over 60 years. As attitudes of the public swayed toward the benefits of rigorous exercise and team play in building strong minds and bodies in their youth, the preservationists lost their beloved greensward. Late in the 1920s plans were drawn up for permanent ballfields to be installed on the North MeadO\v. They were constructed in the 1930s, after Robert Moses became Parks Commissioner. The cloverleaf design placed them squarely in the middle of the meadows, where the ground was most level. Later the positions of the fields was altered, placing largely individual fields closer to the perimeter of the open spaces. The chain-link fencing that went up around them compounds the effect to the point that it is difficult to see any vestige of the original verdant pastures.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

40


These ballfields are very heavily used today, but not much other activity occurs in the North Meadow.

Recommendations In order to determine the course of action to be taken, it is necessary to establish the desired goal. The ballfields at this time are a fact of life. Yet the desire is to recapture the open pastoral quality of the original design. Obviously a compromise is in order. The ballfields and their attendant Cyclone fencing are the biggest obstacle to the realization of the greensward objective. Their visual effect can be diminished in a number of ways. 1. The present layout of the fields, while a vast improvement over the earlier design, may be further improved by tucking the backstops close to the perimeter plantings when at all possible, allowing the eye of the beholder to obtain a vista through the center of the meadows as much as possible. Selective screening with plant materials may offer additional visual relief. 2. Fences should be eliminated when at all possible. This will be more easily accomplished should the ball playing be limited to softball, as per current discussions. Those fences remaining can be outfitted with a more visually unobtrusive material such as black mesh instead of the "heavy" galvanized chainlink. :-1ention has been made concerning the possibility of utilizing portable backstops when at all feasible, an idea which should be applauded. Then, at least during the off season, these visual mammoths could be retired from the landscape. 3. The land between the ballfields could be shaped in a manner to reestablish a natural drainage swale in the middle, shaping up to a slightly rolling character before the slightly depressed ballfields. The effect at ground level would be that of a series of gently rolling hills, the rise of which would visually block the ballfields from the eye of the viewer until he or she would move to higher ground. This suggestion assumes the additional expense of properly draining the individual ballfields. 4. The perimeter planting should be addressed in the same manner as the original Olmsted ideal: to provide an undulating appearance in the borders with singles and groups of trees without understory carefully placed sporadically along the edge. The effect would once again cause the eye to wander into the apparently "limitless greensward".

Central Park North Mcadow Historical Report

41


In order to achieve this effect, some of the existing trees which form the present green wall around the North Meadow and encroach on its space would be removed and others planted. The maps included in this report would be an asset in proper location of these plantings. Present park-like effects should be retained if they are in accord with the overall objectives [See Fig. #46]. In addition to selective screening of the ballfield backstops, the massive intrusion of the Farm Building (now North Meadow Security Center) should be screened by plant materials to negate its impact in the long vistas. 5. The Springsbank Arch, once a pedestrian objective, is showing signs of neglect. Compare the 1989 photograph in Figure #47 with the early view of the Arch in Figure #18. The area has become overgrown and litterstrewn [see Fig. #48]. The pathway through the Arch has now become part of the stream that flows adjacent to it. The area merely needs to be cleaned up and restored to its attractive potential. The water source [Fig. #49J and headwater pool [Fig. #50J seem gratuitous. A much more naturalistic approach with a larger headwater area \\'ould be in character with the original design. Some views of the North Meadow can still give us a glimpse of original intent for the landscape [see Fig. #51]. Unfortunately the ballfields and the distant "wall of green" detract from the visual enjoyment of the space, once the primary objective. It is also impossible to attain the other important objective in the Olmsted & Vaux plan - the screening ou t of perimeter buildings in order to promote a feeling of rural retreat. The buildings have simply grown too tall [see Fig. #52J. Yet, even with some of the irreversible changes, with the proper planning, cooperation and imagination, the North Meadow may once again convey an aspect of that "quiet rural retreat" of verdant pastures and "limitless Greensward" its originators planned well over a century ago.

Central Park North Mcadow Historical Report

42


VII. Bibliography A Guide to the Central Park (By an Officer of the Park). New York: A. O. !l10ore and Co., 1859. American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society. Sixteenth Annual Report. 1911. Transmitted to the Legislature (of the State of New York) June 12, 1911. Albany: J. B. Lyon Co., 1911. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Third Annual Report ... Ianuarv 1860. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1860. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Fifth Annual Report ... Ianuarv 1862. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1862. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Sixth Annual Report ... Ianuarv 1863. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1862. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Seventh Annual Report ... for the Year Ending December 31, 1863. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1864. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Eighth Annual Report ... for the Year Ending December 31, 1864. VVilliam C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1865. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. l\'inth Annual Report ... for the Year Ending December 31, 1865. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1866. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Tenth Annual Report ... for the Year Ending December 31, 1866. William C. Bryant & Co., Printers, 1867. Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. Twelfth Annual Report ... for the Year Ending December 31. 1868. New York: Evening Post Steam Presses, 1869. Board of Commissioners of the Department of Public Parks. Third General Report ... for the Period of Twenty Months, From May 1st 1872, to Dec. 31st, 1873. New York: William C. Bryant & Co., 1875. City of New York Department of Parks. Annual Report - 1914. City of New York Department of Parks. Six Years of Parks Progress. 1935.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

43


Cranz, Galen. The Politics of Park Design - A History of Urban Parks in America. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1982. Demcker, Robert. Central Park Plant List & Map Index of 1873. Prepared for distribution by the Frederick Law Olmsted Association and the Central Park Community Fund, May 1979 (reproduction of original 1873 document). Department of Parks & Recreation. General Files, 1933-1962. Department of Parks, Borough of Manhattan. Annual Reports. New York: F. Hubner & Co., Inc., 1929, 1930 and 1931. Graff, M. M. Central Park I Prospect Park - A New Perspective. New York: Greensward Foundation, Inc., 1985. Grant, William H. The Roads and Walks of the Central Park; Being a Practical Description of their Mode of Construction and of the Materials Used. Published expressly for the Metropolitan Fair. March, 1864. Maynadier, Gustavus B. Report on Soils, Etc., in Central Park, New York Cit\,. Submitted to the Honorable Charles B. Stover, Commissioner of Parks, Boroughs of Manhattan and Richmond, May 15, 1911. McLaughlin, Charles Capen. The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Volume III: "Creating Central Park." Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. Merkel, Hermann W. Report on Survey of Central Park with Recommendations. 1927. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the Central Park Conservancy. Rebuilding Central Park for the 1980s and Bevond. 1979. Olmsted, Frederick Law. Fortv Years of Landscape Architecture: Central Park. Edited by Frederick Law Olmsted, Jr. and Theodora Kimball. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1973 (Reproduction of 1927 original). Olmsted, Frederick Law. Two Letters to the President on Recent Changes and Projected Changes in the Central Park. To the Honorable H. G. Stebbins, President of the Department of Public Parks, form Olmsted and Vaux, Landscape Architects. New York: February, 1872. Parsons, Samuel, Jr. Landscape Gardening. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1891. Parsons, Samuel. Jr. The Art of Landscape Architecture. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1915.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

44


Peet, Louis Harman. Trees and Shrubs of Central Park. New York: Manhattan Press, 1903. Reed, Henry Hope, and Sophia Duckworth. Central Park - A Historv and a Guide. New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1967. Report of Special Committee Appointed to Examine into Condition, Affairs and Progress of the New York Central Park. Transmitted to the Legislature January 25, 1861. Albany: Charles Van Benthuysen, Printer, 1861. Rogers, Elizabeth Barlow. Rebuilding Central Park - A Management and Restoration Plan. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1987. The Central Park Explained and Illustrated. :\'ew York: De\'lin & Co., 1871.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

45


VIII. Figures Figure #1

"Greensward Sketch No.7, Present Outlines and Effect Proposed." In Olmsted, Fortv Years of Landscape Architecture, 232.

Figure #2

"Pre-Park Site, 1857," in Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park, 15.

Figure #3

Photograph (1989) of glacial grooves in rocks in the North

Figure #4

"A Landmark Map of Manhattan Island from 80th Street to 140th Street in 1776," in the Sixteenth Annual I<.eport, 1911, of the American Scenic and Historic Preserva tion Society to the Legislature of the Sta te of New York.

Figure #5

"Central Park and Jones Park, New York." Published in the Illustrated News, June 25, 1853, p.409. The New- York Historical Society.

Figure #6

"Plan for Northern Central Park, 1860.", DPR 1752, City of ::\'ew York ~1unicipal Archives.

Figure #7

"First Study of Design for the Central Park." (From a 'A/ood-cut made in 1858) In Olmsted, Fortv Years of Landscape Architecture, 214.

Figure #8

"Map of the I<.oads, V'Ialks, Ornamental '路Vater etc., etc. of the Central Park." New York: C. \1. Saxton, Barker & Co., 1859. New York Public Librarv. ,

Figure #9

"Map of the Central Park showing the Progress of the Work up to January 1st 1860," in Third Annual Report, January 1860.

Figure #10

"Profiles of the Central Park on the lines of the VIth & VIIth Avenues prolonged from 59th to 110th street." (Horizontal Scale - 600' to 1", Vertical Scale - 200' to 1"). In Third Annual Report, January 1860.

Figure #11

"Central Park Guide," in Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. for the Year Ending December 31, 1865.

Figure #12

Section of walk showing original l1iethod of construction (1865).

Figure #13

"Map of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1862." In Fifth Annual I<.eport of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, January 1862, 64.

Central Park North Mcadow Historical Report

~1eadow.

46


Figure #14

"Map of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1863." In Sixth Annual ReJ20rt of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, January 1863, 61.

Figure #15

"!l1ap of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1864." In Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, for the year ending December 31st, 1863,64.

Figure #16

"Martel's New York Central Park." New York Public Library.

Figure #17

"Map of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1867." In Tenth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park. for the year ending December 31st, 1866,82

Figure #18

"View East toward Springsbank Arch." Stereograph by G. Stacy. In The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Volume III: Creating Central Park, 446.

Figure #19

"The Springsbank Arch at the :\'orth !l1eadow, c. 1870." In Henry Hope Reed and Sophia Duckworth, Central Park - A History and a Guide, 123.

Figure #20

"View South irom Springsbank Arch." W. H. Guild and Fred. B. Perkins, The Central Park, Plate 51, "Archwav and Cascade." In -The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, 447. ~

Figure #21

Map in Twelfth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, for the Year Ending December 31, 1868.

Figure #22

"Central Park Plant List & Map Index of 1873." Prepared by Robert Demcker, Landscape Architect, in 1873, for distribution by The Frederick Law Olmsted Association and The Central Park Community Fund, May 1979, 5.

Figure #23

"North Meadow Central Park Looking East," photograph by William Hale Kirk, pre-1915. Museum of the City of New York.

Figure #24

"North Meadow, Central Park, New York City." In Parsons, Landscape Gardening, 283.

Figure #25

Pictorial Plan of Central Park (c. 1890). City of New York Municipal Archives.

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

47


Figure #26

"Boys' Playground, Central Park, New York, N. Y." (Detroit Publishing Company, c. 1904), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Collection.

Figure #27 A. S. Campbell, "Lawn Tennis in Central Park, N. Y." Elizabeth, N. J.: A S. Campbell, Copyright Jan. 27, 1896. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Stereograph Collection. Figure #28

"Lawn Tennis Grounds," Central Park, Nevi' York. The New-York Historical SOCiety.

Figure #29

"The Tennis Courts, Central Park, New York." (Detroit Publishing Company, c.1904), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Collection.

Figure #30

"Lawn Tennis Grounds," Central Park, New York. The l\'ew- York Historical Society.

Figure #31

Topographical Map from 97th St. to 104th St., Edward A Miller. City of ?\'ew York Municipal Archives.

Figure #32

"Central Park Key Map," prepared by Gordon J. Culham. ?\'ew York: Hamilton Maxwell, Inc., 1925. Back Cover Insert in Olmsted, EQrlx Years of Landscape Architecture.

Figure #33

"Irrigation Plan - North Meadow", Gustave J. Steinacher Engineers, :".1arch 1928. City of l\'ew York \1unicipal Archives.

Figure #34

"Los Angeles 'Raids' New York." "Speeding in silent majesty over New York City, the gigantic dirigible Los Angeles is here shown leading a convey of blimps to join the great 'Air Raid' on defenceless Manhattan. The 'raid' was a finale to the New York Aviation Show. 5/9/30." National Archives, Still Pictures Branch.

Figure #35

Negative Rec'd from Wright Field, Ohio, 7/9/31. Taken by Capt. A. W. Stevens - May 1931 (approx. 23,000 Ft. Altitude.) National Archives, Still Pictures Branch.

Figure #36

"Key Map Showing Location of Proposed Marginal Play Areas," Wm. Latham, Engineer and Allyn R. Jennings, Architect, July 12, 1935. City of New York Municipal Archives.

Figure #37

"New York, N. Y. - Army Day Parade." 4/6/35. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch.

Central Park North Mcadow Historical Report

48


Figure #38

"Central Park - June 1935." Rev. Sept. 1941, A. Alison. City of New York Municipal Archives.

Figure #39

Central Park ball diamonds - North Meadow (aerial view), 9/8/37. New York City Parks Photo Archive.

Figure #40

Central Park Reservoir - view north, 1938. New York City Parks Photo Archive.

Figure #41

"Aerial View of Central Park looking North from 59th St." (10/31/51), National Archives - Still Picture Branch.

Figure #42

路路Central Park Aerial - April, 1982," in "Restoration Plan for Central Park" work plan, prepared for Elizabeth Barlow, Central Park Administator, by Beyer Blinder Belle, \1ay 1982.

Figure #43

1989 photograph of the ballfields in the west portion of the North \1eadow, looking east.

Figure #44

1989 photograph showing cyclone fences surrounding ball fields in western section of North Meadow.

Figure #45

1989 photograph of Meadow with intruding ballfield. Trees in distance form "solid walls of green."

Figure #46

Park-like area in the north west of the North l\1eadow in 1989.

Figure #47

The Springsbank Arch looking northeast in 1989.

Figure #48

Litter at small cascade adjacent to Springsbank Arch (1989).

Figure #49

Water source at the Springsbank Arch (1989).

Figure #50

Headwater pool just south of the Springsbank Arch (1989).

Figure #51

View of North MeadO\v from northeast knoll looking southwest (1989).

Figure #52

View of North Meadow from northeast, below the knoll, looking southwest (1989).

Central Park North Meadow Historical Report

49


Appendix A: Trees & Shrubs of Central Park The following are excerpts from: Peet, Louis Harman, Trees and Shrubs of Central Park (New York: Manhattan Press, 1903).

34~-::.=~

38-- --

47 ,

,

I

12 I I

I I

,

/

p.£5£ RV O/ R

. N°13

\

\\

t~$)U 9J~ "'Ift'lJ $'r" ~

~Slf !J~@!.t<J~ ~u.J

\


XIlI. L\ST :\1:\£1'\"-SIXTH STREET TO EAST OKE HUNDHED A:\D SECO:\D STREET

As has been said before, if yon ha\'e followed these rambles, in the order of the book, yon will readily recognize most of the trees and shrllbs of this Section on SigJlt. But there are some of them oyer which you may well linger, and to these few YOllr attention is hereby called, in the spirit that Walton would ha\e illyited YOl1 to a day's allgling-be ill no hurry, absene quietly, and learn and /0<.1(" for they are dear fellows-all of them. Learn 10 know them as friends.

Acer sacchal'inum, \'a1'. nigrum.

(Bloch Sugar

Jfaf' Ie. :-\0.52.) This interesting \'aricty of the sllgar maple will be fmmel along the \Valk th<1.t branches off to t11e west from the Drive', jllSt as the Drive passes O"{'T Trans\'erse Road Xo. 4. This \Yalk skirts the east-

erly side of .\"orth ~lea(]o\\', and rUllS about parallel with East Driye. Follow this \\":1lk along l111tij you come to a ](lJ'ge mass of rock all the right (east) of tile \\'alk. This mass is abollt opposite East Onc ]{llnurecltl1 Street. were it exten<ied into the Parle It is the second rock mass YOll n1E'ct. going northerly on this \Valk r and the hl:td:: 11laple is just beyond it, On the left of the Walk (\Ycst). This tree makes a triangle with two swamp while o3ks, b<1ck (west) of it; the black maple is in the point of the triangle! and tl'Je two s\\,D.l1lP white oaks make its opposite siue. Explanations, i\1ap No. 13 CO:\i:"lOX XA~jE

BOTA~lU.L NAME

r. Honey Locust. Sycamore M8.plc. 3. Common Horscchcstn\1t. 4. Red Birch, River Birch, Black Birch. 5. '\Veeplng European Silver Lmden. 6. Norway Ma1(le. 7. American "·hite or Gray Birch. S. Sugar or Rock Maple. 9. American or 'Nhite Elm. 10. Oriental Plane Tree. 11. Copper Beech. 12. Hackberry, Sugarberry, Nettle Tree. 13. Cornelian Cherry. 14. American Linden, Basswood, Bee Tree. 15. Sweet Gum or Bilsied. l6. Reeve's Spirrea. l7. Pignut l-ilckory. 18. European Elder. 19. Ramanas Rose, Japan Rose. 20. Mockernut or \Vhiieheart Hickory. n. European Beech. 2:2. Black Cherry. 23. European Llnden. :24. Hop Hornbeam or Ironwood. 25. English Oak. 26. European Beech. :27. Indian Bean Tree or Southern Caialpa. 28. Turkey Oak. 2.

Glaiits(liia tn'O(Q;:thos. Acer pscildopl,,:an1fs. /ES(l/illS hippo(Ostolllfm. Betilla nigra. TiNa Ellroprco, ,'ar. argclltCQ (or alba) pCJJdllla. Acer plata!wi,its.

Betllia popliN/oha. Acer sa((/im·illll?ll. Ulmus Amcri,ont1. P1Manlls Ori('nfaHs. Fag/IS S1!/"ati(a, mr. cllprea. Celtis Ocddclllaiis.

30. 31. 32• 33· 34· 35· 36 .

37·

American White or Gr;:,.y Birch. Tulip Tree. Buro/x'an Bird Cherry. \\'itc 1 Hazel. Pil1 Oak. Sassafras. Scarlet Oak. Scarlet-fruited Tho r Il , '\",'hite Thom. Ninebark.

3 8 . Red Maple. 39· Ailanthus or

Canals mas(Hla.

Tilia Amer£cQ1IQ.

Tree of Hea\'en. Sweet Viburnum, Sheepbern', !\'am)ybern'. Standlsh's Hon"eysuckle. Hercules's Club, De\'il's \Valking-Stick, Angelica Tree. Silver or ,\Vhite ;o.Iaple. Fragrant Honeysuckle. \Veeping European Silver Lmden. European SlIver Linden.

Liqll£dambar st)·raet'jina. Spira'a R('{"(l(sialla. Carya pordl1a. Sambu.cus nigra. Rosa rugosa.

45·

Carya tomcl1tosa.

46.

FagHs sy};.)Qt~(a. Prmfus scrotma. Tilia Europu:'o. Ostrya Virg£71ica.

47· Black Haw.

Quercus rouur. Fagus sJ1lvatt'.ca.

Catalpa b£gnonioidcs. Quercus cern·s.

43· 44·

48. Arrowwood. 49· Red Oak. 50. English Hawthorn. 5'· Swamp ,\Vhite Oak. 5'· Black Sugar l'IJaplc, Black Maple. 53· Sweet BirCh, Black Birch, Cherry Birch. 54· Shagbark Hickory. 55· Butternut.

BOL'\>':JCAL NAME

Betula popul£jol£a. L£riodClldrol1 tHiipijera. PrUI111S padlls.

Ha1!!011Ichs Fhgillialla. Quercus paluslris. Sassa/ms oi7ieil10lc. QuercHs eO((il1(,o.

Crat(['glls co((inea. Ph)'socarpos (or SpirG!a) opt!ii/olio. Acer fubrll7l1. A ilant.hus g!andu!oSlls. \li&lIr1111111 /(?1ltago. L011iccra Stolldishii. Aralia spil20sa.

Accr dasycarpllm. L0l11'cera /fagralltiss£ma. Tilia Ellfopa-a, ~'ar. Q1'gel1tea (or alba) peud1l1a. TiNa EW'opa:a, ·l'ar. arge11tea (or alba).

l'il)1/r111011 prtl11if 011'11111. Viburnum den/alum. Quercus r1/&ro. CratcrgHs ox'vaeant-lla. Quercus bico!or.

Acer saccharillllm, ·var. 11i· grum. Betula lellta.

CarjJO alba. juglmls cinerea.


_II

\'0

/ /

7",

:,-0 -27

'24' ~:---22 - -- 23 "23

N914

W~S)lJ @'QJiJblJ

snL

TO

If!HJ [: 0--£7

~)(Q)(Q)l


Explanations, .Map No. 14

COllnlON NAME I. 2.

J. 4.

s.

6. 7. S. 9. 10.

1 I. 12.

JJ,

Lombardy Poplar. Crimean Lilldcn. Fin Oak. English Elm. Sugar or H.ock Maple. J\'oTway Mnple. Thunberg's Spindle TreC', 'Winged Spindle Tree. American Of '\,"hite Elm. Japollicum or Japan YiburnUlll. Fragrant HOl1cysuc]de. Red MapJe. A:ncrican Cork Elm, Rock Elm. J-Ioily-lea\'('o BarberI"" O~cgon Barberry, _·\shberry.

130TA:\'IC.'.L ?',r":'Im

BOTANlCAL J\'A)liE

50. Witch Hnz('l. 51. Shagbark or Shelllxll'k Hickory. 5::>' EngJlsh Hawthorn. 53. Pignut Hickory. 54. Black Cherry.

Popullts d£/atata.

Til£a das)'styla. QucrcHs pa/1I5his. [;/11;lIS call1pc,,lrt's. Aur soccharhu!1Il. Accr p/atmJOidcs. Tltnlikl't;.iQl111S (or

EU(1)'iiillS

a/atlls). Ulmlls Amcrica1!a.

LOi11t:Cl'a jl'ogrolitissima. Accl' 1'11[11'11111. Uhll1S raCC;)1osa. .MallO!1ia aqllif0lia.

IS. Sorrell Tree, Sourwood.

OX,1'dciidnwt (or

16. Mock Orange or S\\'cct

Philadclphus

O.~·yd(l1dl'(:n:

01'/,.11'1'11111.

(OI'O))QI';';IS.

Poplar. ~9. Bald Cypress. 60. Sassafras. 61. Tulip Tr('e . 62 ..-\m('ric~l11 Elder. 63. Soulard's Crab j\pple. 6.j. 'Whitt; Oak, (15. SC':lrlct 0:11.::. 66. AmL'ric:m White or Gray Birch. Vi. 'White Poplar or ..\belc

l(l1'1111S stol(lI1Hcr/l.

(lS. Black WalmlL 69. Honey Locust. 'io. Aihmtlltls or Tree

]3il;1'1IS SCmp(T,·t'I·CJ7S.

Rlnfs t.1't'lz1·na. Car)'Q /olilcnlosa.

22. Lily of the Valley Tret', mingled with Lo\'eJy Azalea. 23,' Irish Yew. 24; ;:S'lYamp 'White Oak. .:25. C:'i..csby's Andromeda, 26. English Yew. 27. Austrian Pine. 28. Swiss Stone Pine. 29. Cornelian Cherry. 30. Staghorn Suma;. 31. American Hornbeam. Blue Beech, \Vater Beech. 32. Blackberry. 3J. Ehotan Pine. 34. 'White Pine. 35, "Veeping Golden Bell or Forsythia. 36.*Box~lca\'ed Cotoneaster. 37. Dwarf Mountain Sumac. 38. American Chestnut. 39. Scotch Elm, 'Wych Elm. 40. Common Horsechestnut. 4 r. Shagbark or Shell bark Hickory. 42. American Beech. 43. Silver or White Maple. 44. Smoke Tree. 45. Japan Cedar. 46, Flowering Dogwood. 47. Shadbush, June Berry, Service Berry. 48. Hemlock. 49. Obtuse-leaved Japan Ar· bor Vitro.

l'occil1t'inn

Azalca

Jl:011ihjc1'o.

70.\"o,1i1l11l distit'lIUi11.

Sassafras ojji(inolc. L£l'lodoldroJl tlll£pt'fcra. SOHll)(l(lIS COJJadC11sis. p)'I'US SOlilardi. QII(,I'(1I5 dl!J(/. (.Jll0·(:!S

(O(t';I1((1.

H(tHla popult·jolia. Popnlus alba. .1i1.~I{li1s

of

l1igl'o. Clcl:'115(.·hid fl'i(Ol:tlios. A1hmlJ;us gla1/dllh1slls.

Hea Yen. ; 1.

col,),l1!boSH7It.

A1JdroJ1Jcda

PapHllls

TH'l'.

Hicl;ory.

n. Common Swamp BluebeTr.';. High-bush Blueberry.

ox)'acclltha.

Car)'a porL·pw. Prl11111S s('1'olina. Q1I0'(IIS ntlwa. Lal'i:r ElIrop(,-a. or C alolpa /liS:J:Ol1£(,£Jcs.

53. Cottonwood or Carolina

R/;('i(/MYt(1S h(1'J'i(lir:'(s.

Cl'ota.~lIs

F£rgt'lIz·Qllo.

Southern Cata1pa.

V1'bul'1/wi1 tOi!1(jjtO.t.lIlH.

J4. Rhoo.ot~·pos.

Syringa. Ii. ,\YiJd Red Osier. IS. Tree Box or Box\\·ood. 19. Stnghom Sumac. 20. I\1ocJ.:Cl'l1ut or \YllilC'llc;ut

55. Red Oak. 56. European Larch. 57. Indian Bean Tree

lJamamrl:'s COI')'o alba.

(fo/'ilmlida

Hackberry,

Sugarl.!erry,

Celtis Oaidcnfalts.

l'\('Ule Tn'('.

with

aJl:a'I1a.

Tax1!s baecata, 'UQr. fastt'[Jola. QucrCHs birolor. A udroi/lcda (or LCliCOlhoii), Taxlis baccala. PillUS A 1Istn·aca. Pinus Ccmbra.

'i2. Common Locust. 7J. Sycamore ilIaple. i 4· Fontancsia. i $. Osage Or~ll1g('. ,6. English Hawthorn. i7. Americnll Hazd. is. Bl:::tck Oak.

Rob111ia ps('uda((J(ia. :1r('t' pscudoplaiallHs. F0l1/allCs1'a F01·tHl1ct".

,11 ac/llra o1l1·(mlt"aro. (-rat(r-glls oX.1'aco)ltlio. Cn')'l1ls ....1m('1'i(ol1a. 011(1'(11" (O{(iI1CQ, 'i't)r.

liI1001';"a

BOTAXICAL KA!lIE

Conl1!s mos(1I10,

Rhus typhillo.

Corpi11lls Ca7oiil1ianQ Rubus 'i.n'llorus. P1'nu" exec/sa. Pinus strobus. Forsyflit'a s1Ispcnsa. ColOlteastcr bllx£fol£a. RIms copalHl1a. Castallca saliva (or vesca) , vor,

Americana. Ulmus JUon/ana. ksenlus }l1'ppocastallum. Carya aLba ..

Fagus !errugt·J1ea. Acer dasycarplim. Rhus cotiuus.

Cryptomcria ) apoll~'ca. florida. Amclanchicr Calwdcnsis. Corm~s

Tsuga Calwdcllsis. Chmlll'CCJ'paris (or

pora) outusa.

RCI1'lIOS~

i9, English Hawthorn. So. American Arbor \,i~=c.

C1'atu:gHs o:xyacantha.

Sr. European Beech.

Faglls syJ-vatica.

7111I)'a Occt·dOltalis.


XIV. WEST KIKETY-SIXTH STBEET TO THE POOL

J11 this Sectioll YOll will find CrilllC,11l lindcn:::. almost as soon as you ellter at the \\'cst Ninety-sixth Street ( .te, handsome SouJard's crab-apples, oyer nen.r Trans" _rse J\.oad Ko. 4, nati\'e cork elm, on the westerly side of the }\rorth l\Jeac1ow, the obtllse-lc3\'cd Japan arbor :c:c, a sorrel tree near tJle hydrant, not L1r from the lie by which ),011 entered and others equally interestir:g. Let 115 consider 111e111 in detail. Andromeda floribullda. (Lil)' of the Valle)' Trcc. ). 22.) This fine mass, \\"hic11 is intermingled ,,·jth .4::.01('0 am«,IJO, is \Ye11 worth sccing in early .c.pring, e.snpcially when ill bloom. The 8l;J,Jea is then a mass of 'ar, coolmagcnta, and the andromeda fairly bursting II j1h its dense clusters of sm~l1 drooping. waxy, frost\vl1ite, urn·shaped flowers in erect panicles 8t the ends the branches. The aza]c3 Jl~,c; very small oynte le(1\'c,-:, arcely half an inch lOllg'. The androJ11('(la's leaves are about two or three inches 10llg. They both bloom early . spring, late ~Iarch Of early April. Be on hand to see em. You will find this mass on the \\"est of the \Yali< that fUllS parallel with the Drj"e and opens out close hOsi(le it, where the Drh'e passes o\'er Transycrse Ro.1u o. 4. The ma,s is off the \Yalk, a little at your left \ west), if you walk no1't11('r1y, and not far from tbe fork that swings out its left bra11ch to the Dri\'e, as the :ter pass over the Transverse Roau.

xv. HABLDI MEER Al\D nCIl\lTY

This Section. the vicinity of the Green Honses and J\IcGowan's Pass Tavern, is full of man)' interesting things which will be sure to clai1l1 \'onr attention. ]\]05t of the trees and shrubs of this area vOtt h::1\'(' met before on your rambles in the lower sectj"ons of the Park . hilt tll~re ;lre ~e\'craJ here which are new, that is, Wllich are not represented in other parts of the Park. Let us cOll,ider tile,e ill detail:Acer Italum. (Ilahall JIat!c. ;';0. 31.) This illteresting tree, a natiye of Italy, Switzerland, and Southern Europe. will be fOllnd at the extreme southwest corner of the Green HOllses. It is \'en' close to the wall, and YOll can pick it ant by its lea~'es which resemble cut·dowl1 editions of the sycamore maple's Jeaycs. The), look "ery Il1tlch like the Jeayes of that tree, with the Joues obtu,c;e]y rounded off, They are five·Jobed, ahout fire jllche~ long. and whitened beneath. The tree nowers in droopiJlg (orymbs, and its keys (fruit) hare ~lightJy spreading wings. T11e tree stands just below the Cra/rlglts Cl'l/s·galli, ,'aI', f'.yracQllthafolio, to the e<1st of it. Acer macrophyllum. (L"rge-Ica,'<,d ;Vatle. Oregoll Mat!e. :':0. 35·) SO\lth of the Greell HOllses, clo,e to the line of frames of the n\lrsery that backs up this interesting patch of slope here, you will find a fine


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51.

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Sr:


Explanation;, Map No. 15

CO)lIllION 1. 2.

3. 4. 5.

6.

N . . ME

Lombardy Poplar. Pill Oak. American Beech. Honey Locust. Turkey Oak. CottOllW (lod, Car 0 1 j 11 a Porinr.

i. j\J an y. J10wcrcd Rose.

BOTIIK]CAL R.H1E

BOTANICAL NAME

PClpHllIS d£lataf,l. Qucrcus paillstn's, FagHs /crrH[!,il1(O. Glcdifschio triacoll/llos. QlIC1'CUS

(eln·s.

Popuills

111011 iii/era ,

R050 1II11Iilijl(11'11.

t'arpiHJ/s Carol£lliollo, S. Amej·jcan Hornbeam, Blue Beech, Water Beech. 9. Ash-Jeayed J\,faple, Box XrgHndo occtoidcs. Elder. J-lolcsia Idraptao. 10. Sil\'erhcll Tree. Phcllodcndr(1l1 .'1 m1l1'(!jSC. Cork Tree. "n.. Chinese Striped MapJe, Moose- .-l.ccr PC1l11.~)'h.'(l11i(lOIl,

62. Scarlet Oak. 63- Pro::.tratc English Yew (Low <md sprcuJing). 64. Spicebush, 65. \ ellow\\'ood. 66. J<iPftl1 Hol1y. 67, Cedar of Lebanol1, 68. Thunberg's or Japan Bar-

belT"

69, Common Horseclw::.trmt, 70. Dwnrf j\lOtlntain Sumac. 71, European Larch. i 2. Bl:1ck Cherry. 73. l'\inebark. -

pUrpll7"CIl.

'5·

6. 1 7. J

18. 19· 20. 2J. 22.

Accr I'latatlOio'cs. Nor"':JY ,\taple. BrllIla (lilw. European \\"hite Birch. Black Walnut. Jug/aIls 1!i.~m. Shaghilrk or ShelJbark CaryQ allw, Hickory, Hackberr)', Sugarberry, Celtis Oreidclliulis. Net.tle Tree. Amcricnn Linden, Basswood Bee Tree ldesia. ' . 1drsio polwD1'f'o, Sweet, Bay, Swamp Mag- .U agJIOl1'a ·glollcQ. Kenhlckv Coffee 'free, Sycamore !1l:lple,

Accr l'seJldoplot,1l1HS.

'Vcstcrn Yello\\' Pine, English Oak.

i,JUt"l'(lIS

28. Japan Arbor Vita.:(Vadety squQrrosa).

('iI/liS

ponderosa. hJ/'lir.

(or Rcfillos1'01'0) pl's1fcra, ,Jar, sqU/lr-

Chamux),pol'is 1'050.

29, Austrian Pine, P1'}~lIS '7uS~I";:Qca., 30. j\'ordmann's 8i1\'er Fir, Ables"\ (.InnltalJ1HG)!a, 31. 1taJian :'IJnple, .-1.CCI' 111l11lm. 32. CocJ.;spllrTh01'11 (Variety era/ugHS c1'1ls-galli, ",,'or, pyra. PJ 'ra,'a IItlta/oHa). conthof<,i-ia. 33' Corylopsis. Corylapsis spicOfa. 3-1-. Large.thorned Hawthorn. Cro/Ct"glts mocracaIJf.ho. 35. Large·lcaved Maple, Ore· ...1..:1;'1' macropltyllllJlI.

gon :'Iap}e.

36. Purple·leavcd European Hazel.

37. Deodnr, Indian Cedar. 38. Jap:1n Lemon. 3()' Austrian Pine. 40. LovelY Azalea. 41. Buckthorn. 42. European \Vhiie Birch. 43. "':itch Hazel. 44. Indian Bean Tree or Souillern Catalpa. 45. Katsura Tree, 46. Earl~'.flowering J essa· mme. 47. American Holly. 48. Japan Azalea. 49. Lily of the Valley Tree. 50. Tr(>(~ Celandine, Plume Popp~'.

51. Scarlet· fruited Hawthorn, \\ihite Thorn. 52, Black Haw. 53. Red Oak. 54. Norway Spruce. 5:;. European Larch. 56, Sassafras. 57. Ash·lcrlYcd Maple, Box

Coryltls m'Cl/a1Jo, "<Jar. atropHr. p1Irco. Ccdrus DcodQ1'Q.

Cl'tl'llS trifalillta, Piltlls i1uslriacu. Azalea 01110:110, Rlwmmts cathartua. Belula alha, Hamoml;'Hs 1'1:"f!.t'n£ano. Gaialpa bigllomoidcs.

C('1'C£diphyllul11 10pollicum. ) asminuj/t ,mdiftorHnt.

lie." opaca, AzoIc-a mallis, A lldl'011leda f/oriblmda. Bocconia cordata. Crata:gus cocciltea.

FiburllHm prllntJoli101l. QUC1'CUS ntbl'a. P1:cca c:t·cdsa.

Lari,,' EuropCl'a. Sassafras offidl1ole. NCf.!,lmdo accroides.

Elder.

58. Red Maple. 59. Red Oalc. 60. Smooth Sumac. 61. Weeping Golden Bell or Forsythia.

.!leer ruhrum. QHcrCIIs ruura. Rh1ls gla/n'a.

Forsythia suspe1lsa.

/,rl\~t)'(lttl.

/'CJ::::,1';'II,

C/adl'os/is lillcfLlria.

Ile,1' (1'C-I;at,l. Ctdnrs Libo;;i, Bnbcl'1's T/;iiii[lngii. A~.'iCl!h!s

hit/)(1cas/Of1l/llt. Rlt liS ((lp,llli;;a. PrUlIlIS SC/'ll/;'lla.

(or Sph'U<1.) (lpU-

hJ(l/ia, RIllIs .I:;.l,)i~J'<1, l'y!")!.\' (li!ol[,<1ri,l,

Rowan TrcC'. Enropcan Becch,

Fnc,1fs 51'1;'(lt;',:,L

mack 0:11.::.

(}lI;T(l!S'(o",iij'll, ,'llr,

English Elm, A.mC'l·ican White

(:Inilis ((JiJi/Y.'lris. ~\sh.

tillet,Jrio.

J·~7"o.n'liHs .·l;;;<Tic(ll!O.

jiiJiipcJ'IIS '·ir,c.ininlla, Cas/di)(l) s<l:i:\l, ,'(Jr,

ii.merlcan Chcstnut.

...

1111cri-

cal;a,

Hop Hornbeam or "wood. Tulip Tn:c,

lron~

O~(II')'a

l·il{;;';;;·,a.

rJowcril1g Dogwood,

Lil'£odn;dr{l;l THliri/cra. C()njl!S ;101';,:'0.

Spicel)llSh,

Bn,'t-c1 i)ll'(;;:;,-:')I,

Arro\\'\\'ood, Smc1()th . \l(]cr. Bnld l'ypH'SS.

Glrdifscliio trt'ocalithos. .-ESCH!US ht'pP(l((l5t,1I,·UJJt.

BCJ1Z0iH

F)/;ys(V,)J'PHS

Rc(} Cedar,

110lla.

Common' H ol'sechestnu t,

Ta:ras bOCCGlo, ;"(,T,

Larix EW"(;/",,<a.

S111001h Sllmac, Ell1'()}lt'al1 \hJIIlll:lill .I\sh,

\\'ood, 'YhistJe\Yood. ,'1,forus (lllJa, '3· White Mulberrv. '4. Purple-leaved English Elm. l"lmlls (ompcstris, ,'or. stricto

QHcr(1IS (OCO·IlCt!.

"ill/!/ll1UJI d'::;~IJtJ!ill.

,,1/";1$ yr1'l!i,,:a. T<J.r,)diuiJl ,i:'s:i:liilnJ,

Rcc\'c's Spir:ra. 5'r'ir(<:(J Rc(;'oi(l1;a, Oriental Spruce, Eastc1"11 PI'C(O Onn:i"h's. SpnlcC'. i)l.

Plul11C·1e!lYed Japan ;\r·

ho]' YiLt'. ChC1T\' Birch. Sm'cL 13il:ch, Black Birch, J\lclck Orange or Sweet Syringa. \\'asllillgton Thorn.

European Si]\,er Linden, 9 6. Common Locust. Yi· White Pine, 9 8. Ko..~}reutel'.ia or \'arnish Tree, European, 99· '''eeping \\'hite Birch. 100, Kentucky Coffee Tree. 101. \\'jld Red Osier. 102. Sih'er or White Maple, 1°3· California Privet, 104. White Poplar, Abele Tree. 1°5· Ginkgo Tree. 106. European Linden. 1°7· Weeping ,\Yillow, Babylonbll Willu\\',

Cl!alll("y/:',';)"is f'O)'Q'1 ,;'i51/.-r,7,

((11' ,',lr,

Retinos· t/l/mo5a.

,'dr.

orgcl1/ca

B('/H/() loll(/.

(UJ/I1'{:,IIS (C')',;<lfa,

7 ;lta E:II'('PG.'o, (or alba),

Robini(7 p.,(udaco(ia. PI'IIUS str(1i:-1!_~, }(<<ircllicrt'a palJt'ot/(l/-u,

Betala alba,

~'Q1',

pC11dllla.

Gymlloc/adlls Canodellsis. Conl1!s 5t{llon;/era. Acer dos),co1'pllm, Lt'gHslnl71lo;:ol£foiillilt, PopIIIIIS alba,

SaJ.isbll1'1'a adirl.1ll1'folia. T1'lia £lI)'o(,rf:l, Suit'.1.' Babylollica.


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:om photostat of sketch .. EFFECT PROPOSED"

Meadow in Upper Park

Figure #1

"Greensward Sketch No.7, Present Outlines and Effect Proposed." In Olmsted, Forty Years of Landscape Architecture, 232.


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"Pre-Park Site, 1857," in Rogers, Rebuilding Central Park, 15,


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Figure #3

Figure #4

Photograph (1989) of glacial grooves in rocks in the North Meadovl'.

"A Landmark Map of Manhattan Island from 80th Street to 140th Street in 1776," in the Sixteenth Annual Report. 1911. of the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society to the Legislature of the State of New York.


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Figure #5

"Central Park and Jones Park, New York." Published in the Illustrated News, June 25, 1853, p.409. The New-York Historical Society.


Figure #6

"Plan for Northern Central Park, 1860.", DPR 1752, City of New York \1unicipal Archives.

FIIlST STUDY OF

Figure #7

JlESIO~ rOil THE CE:-.'THAL }from A \\'ood..cut m..dc- III l~!i

PARK.

"First Study of Design for the Central Park." (From a Wood-cut made in 1858) In Olmsted, Forty Years of Landscape Architecture, 214.


Figure #8

Figure #9

"Map of the Roads, Walks, Ornamental Water etc., etc. of the Central Park." New York: C. M. Saxton, Barker & Co., 1859. New York Public Library.

"Map of the Central Park showing the Progress of the Work up to January 1st 1860," in Third Annual Report, January 1860.


Figure #10

Figure #11

"Profiles of the Central Park on the lines of the VIth & VUth Avenues prolonged from 59th to 110th street." (Horizontal Scale - 600' to 1", Vertical Scale - 200' to 1"). In Third Annual Report, January 1860.

"Central Park Guide," in Ninth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, for the Year Ending December 31, 1865.


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Figure #12

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Section of walk showing originaJ method of construction (1865),


"Map of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1862." In Fifth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, January 1862, 64.

Figure #13

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Figure #14

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"Map of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1863." In Sixth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, January 1863, 61.


Figure #15

"Map of the Central Park, showing the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1864." In Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, for the year ending December 31st, 1863,64.

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Figure #16

"Martel's New York Central Park." New York Public Library.


Figure #17

"Map of the Central Park, shO\ving the progress of the work up to January 1st, 1867." In Tenth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, for the vear ending December 31st, 1866,82

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Figure #18

f,. tI 1'\1 II

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"View East toward Springsbank Arch." Stereograph by G. Stacy. In The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, Volume III: Creating Central Park, 446.


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Figure #19

"The Springsbank Arch at the North ~1eadov", c. 1870." In Henry Hope Reed and Sophia Duckworth, Central Park - A Historv and a Guide, 123.

"

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Figure #20

"View South from Springsbank Arch." W. H. Guild and Fred. B. Perkins, The Central Park, Plate 51, "Archway and Cascade." In The Papers of Frederick Law Olmsted, 447.


Figure #22

"Central Park Plant List & Map Index of 1873." Prepared by Robert Demcker, Landscape Architect, in 1873, for distribution by The Frederick Law Olmsted Association and The Central Park Community Fund, May 1979,5.


Figure #21

Map in Twelfth Annual Report of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park, for the Year Ending December 31,1868.


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Figure #23

"North Meadow Central Park Looking East," photograph by William Hale Kirk, pre-1915. Museum of the City of New York.


Figure #24

"North Meadow, Central Park, New York City." In Parsons, Landscape Gardening, 283.

Figure #25

Pictorial Plan of Central Park (c. 1890). City of New York Municipal Archives.


Figure #26

"Boys' Playground, Central Park, New York, N. Y." (Detroit Publishing Company, c. 1904), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Collection.

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Figure #27 A. S. Campbell, "Lawn Tennis in Central Park, N, Y." Elizabeth, N. J.: A. S. Campbell, Copyright Jan. 27, 1896. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Stereograph Collection.


i

Figure #28

"Lawn Tennis Grounds," Central Park, New York. The New-York Historical Society.


Figure #29

"The Tennis Courts, Central Park, New York." (Detroit Publishing Company, c.1904), Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Collection.


Figure #30

"Lawn Tennis Grounds," Central Park, New York. The New-York Historical Society.


Figure #31

Topographical Map from 97th St. to 104th St., Edward A. Miller. City of New York Municipal Archives.


Figure #32

"Central Park Key Map," prepared by Gordon J. Culham. New York: Hamilton Maxwell, Inc., 1925. Back Cover Insert in Olmsted, Forty Years of Landscape Architecture.


.

Figure #33

Figure #34

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"Irrigation Plan - North Meadow", Gustave J. Steinacher Engineers, March 1928. City of New York Municipal Archives.

"Los Angeles 'Raids' New York." "Speeding in silent majesty over New York City, the gigantic dirigible Los Angeles is here shown leading a convey of blimps to join the great 'Air Raid' on defenceless Manhattan. The 'raid' was a finale to the New York Aviation Show. 5/9/30." National Archives, Still Pictures Branch.


Figure #35

Figure #36

Negative Rec'd from Vhight Field, Ohio, 7/9/31. Taken by Capt. A. IV. Stevens - May 1931 (approx. 23,000 Ft. Altitude.) National Archives, Still Pictures Branch.

"Key Map Showing Location of Proposed Marginal Play Areas," Wm. Latham, Engineer and Allyn R. Jennings, Architect, July 12, 1935. City of New York Municipal Archives.


Figure #37

Figure #38

"New York, N. Y. - Army Day Parade." 4/6/35. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch.

"Central Park - June 1935." Rev. Sept. 1941, A. Alison. City of New York Municipal Archives.


Figure #39

Central Park ball diamonds - North Meadow (aerial view), 9/8/37. New York City Parks Photo Archive.


Figure #40

Central Park Reservoir - view north, 1938. New York City Parks Photo Archive.


Figure #41

Figure #42

"Aerial View of Central Park looking North from 59th St." 00/31/51), National Archives - Still Picture Branch.

"Central Park Aerial - April, 1982," in "Restoration Plan for Central Park" work plan, prepared for Elizabeth Barlow, Central Park Administator, by Beyer Blinder Belle, May 1982.


Figure #43

Figure #44

1989 photograph of the ballfields in the west portion of the North Meadow, looking east.

1989 photograph showing cyclone fences surrounding ball fields in western section of North Meadow.


Figure #45

Figure #46

1989 photograph of Meadow with intruding ballfield. Trees in distance form "solid walls of green."

Park-like area in the north west of the North Meadow in 1989.


Figure #47

The Springsbank Arch looking northeast in 1989.

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Figure #48

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Litter at small cascade adjacent to Springsbank Arch (1989).


- ___ Figure #49

Figure #50

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Water source at the Springsbank Arch (1989).

Headwater pool just south of the Springs bank Arch (1989).


Figure #51

Figure #52

View of North Meadow from northeast knoll looking southwest (1989).

View of North Meadow from northeast, below the knoll, looking southwest (1989).

Reconstruction of the North Meadow of Central Park  

The purpose of this project is "to restore a well used but deteriorated sports landscape and to recapture the historic intent of the largest...

Reconstruction of the North Meadow of Central Park  

The purpose of this project is "to restore a well used but deteriorated sports landscape and to recapture the historic intent of the largest...