Central Park: Upper East Side Roots

Central Park From Above

Every summer, thousands of New Yorkers flee the concrete jungle for a less urban environment. Some choose the Appalachian Mountains of the Catskills or Poconos, while others seek the solitude of Fire Island. The ones who remain, however, find their brief hiatus in Central Park.

Central Park averts the morning cacophony of horns, sirens and construction, and replaces it with birds chirping, running sneakers on pavement and silence. You read that correctly—silence. As the sun climbs in the sky, it draws more urbanites from their apartments and into the park, though most have little trouble finding their own quiet corner.

Creating a Park

The first advocates of Central Park—the wealthy—were inspired by the public spaces of Paris and London. Before its creation in 1857, not only was there no such grounds in New York City, but the entire United States lacked a public landscaped park. Beyond trying to emulate their London and Parisian counterparts, the supporters of Central Park argued that the park would allow the working-class to leave the tavern for a healthier option. The fact that the wealthy would have a place for carriage rides was certainly a benefit as well. However, it did take three years of debate before the park was finally authorized, so it seems some things don’t change.

Though some 1,600 impoverished citizens were displaced by the park, the land was chosen because the swamps, hills and rocky geography made it unwanted for development. The boundaries were drawn, and one of New York’s most extensive public projects was underway. Nearly 3 million cubic yards of earth was removed from the site and was replaced with 270,000 shrubs and trees. In addition to the landscaping, the project also created what is now called the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir, as well as multiple lakes on top of swamps. These lakes were main attractions for thousands of ice skaters when Central Park officially opened in the winter of 1859.

Modern Day Central Park

Manhattan is constantly evolving. The city we see today is noticeably different from that of 20, 10, even five years ago. Central Park has been a constant source of escape since its creation in 1857. 

The Upper East Side was not always synonymous with affluence, but after the addition of Central Park and Second and Third Avenue Railroads in the late 19th century, many purchased real estate there on speculation. Today, the Upper East Side is not a speculative purchase; it’s a sure thing. Central Park is no small reason why. Some of the most desirable Manhattan Luxury Apartments, such as 530 Park Avenue, 1200 Fifth Avenue, 502 Park Avenue and 995 Fifth Avenue, feature unparalleled proximity to Central Park. 

No single feature makes the Upper East Side what it is today. The classic neighborhood offers some of the city’s best boutique shopping, fine dining and world-class museums. All of these attributes add to the allure of buying an Upper East Side apartment, but it’s safe to say the Upper East Side wouldn’t be the same without the 778 green acres of Central Park at its doorstep.