Central Park's East Meadow reopens Tuesday

September 19, 2011 11:24:19 AM PDT
When the Central Park Conservancy formed 30 years ago, one of its prominent goals was to restore each of the park's seven major lawns.Mission accomplished.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20, the public can tour the newly refurbished East Meadow. The lawn, located between 97th and 100th streets near Fifth Avenue, spans six acres suited for picnicking, sunbathing, sightseeing and playing recreational games. It will remain open until late fall, at which time all of the park's lawns will be closed for seasonal maintenance and protection.

Conservancy restoration began in the summer of 2010. It included drainage improvements, path reconstruction and the installation of an automatic irrigation system to nurture the landscape, which was sodded with Kentucky bluegrass.

Click for a slideshow of the restorations at the East Meadow lawn.

A defining element of the East Meadow is the many noteworthy trees that surround its lawn. In Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's original vision for Central Park, they had hoped to cultivate an arboretum between the south end of the East Meadow and Conservatory Garden.

While their plan was never fully realized, they were able to plant a few trees in anticipation of creating that special landscape: an enormous American elm on the north end of the East Meadow is likely one of the original trees of the arboretum -- its exact age cannot be determined until the rings of its trunk can be counted. At approximately 70 feet tall, a breast-height diameter of 60 inches and a canopy spread of 75 feet, however, conservancy representatives believe it to be one of the oldest, largest trees in the entire park.

The Central Park Conservancy began its mission to restore each of the Park's major lawns the year it was founded. In 1980, the conservancy embarked upon the restoration of Sheep Meadow, following with the East Green (1984), the Great Hill (1985), the Great Lawn (1997), North Meadow (2000), and Heckscher Ballfield (2007).

The mission of the conservancy is to restore, manage and enhance Central Park in partnership with the public, for the enjoyment of present and future generations. A private, not-for-profit organization founded in 1980, the group provides 85 percent of the park's $41.5 million expense budget and is responsible for all of its basic care. For more information on the conservancy, please visit www.centralparknyc.org.