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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... New York's Central Park, the nation's first landscaped public park, was created 145 years ago.


CURWOOD: New York's Central Park, the nation's first landscaped public park, was born 145 years ago. Its designers, Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, wanted the grounds to reflect the pastoral style of British country estates. And what a large estate it became. Central Park now covers 843 acres, or 150 city blocks. Over the years a number of famous attractions have bloomed around the park, among them the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Children's Zoo, and the Shalespeare Garden, which is planted exclusively with flowers and other plants mentioned in the Bard's plays. There's Strawberry Fields, of course, and the Sheep Meadow. And an overgrown area called The Ramble, a popular hangout for both birdwatchers and muggers. Despite its natural appearance, Central Park is as much a part of a constructed environment as the city that surrounds it. It took 20,000 workers 5 years to reshape the topography. They moved about 3 million cubic yards of soil and created new hills, valleys, and lakes. It wasn't easy on the ears. In blasting out the rocks workers used more gunpowder than was fired at the Battle of Gettysburg. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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