April 15, 2010

A Visit to Central Park in New York City

With spring finally here, I wanted to take a drive through the historic and incredible Central Park in Manhattan.  Many of the photos I took the other day, focus on a stretch known as the Met to the Meer, a beautiful, diverse landscape extending along the east side of the Park from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and north to the Harlem Meer, at the northernmost section of the Park.  This area is being restored by the Central Park Conservancy, a non-profit founded in 1980.  This group has made great strides in restoring Central Park to its former splendor after decades of neglect.

The Conservancy's restoration of the historic area will build on its history as a horticultural zone - using Park designers Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original arboretum concept as an organizing principle - while connecting disparate landscapes to one another and to the rest of the Park.  This area includes the Mount (see my photo), home to the Park's composting operations.  Each year, more than 3,000 cubic yards of leaves are taken to the Mount to be broken down into compost.  Another 5,000 cubic yards of wood mulch is generated from tree and shrub clippings.  The rich compost is recycled and returned to the Park’s landscapes, used year-round in all of the Conservancy’s planting and horticultural projects.   This area of Central Park is also is home to the stately Conservatory Garden, which serves as the venue for the really fun annual Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon hosted by the Conservancy's Women's Committee - this year on May 5 - which I often attend.  The women guests wear the most fabulous hats for this event.

My friends at the Conservancy tell me that this restoration work includes infrastructure improvements - irrigation and drainage, for example - and that funds raised for the project also go toward long-term operating support. The East Meadow work begins this summer, while restoration in the Reservoir East section will begin in 2011.  While this area is a magnificent site, I can't wait to see it after the Conservancy completes its restoration. After all, this is the organization that restored the Great Lawn, the lush expanse of green that's a favorite for many New York summertime picnics, bringing it back from its 70's-era 'Dust Bowl' nickname.

Amazingly, in its 30-year history, the Conservancy has invested more than $530 million into Central Park, 80 percent of which has been raised from private sources. If you'd like to do your part to keep Central Park looking beautiful and support the Met to Meer restoration, consider a donation to the Conservancy.  For more information about getting involved and to plan your own springtime visit, click here to find out more about this wonderful space.