Parks and Public Squares in New York City 1876

The Battery

Formerly the most attractive spot on the Island, is situated at the southernmost terminus of the City, facing the harbor of New York ; connected with the Battery is Castle Garden.

Bowling Green

Near the Battery, at the entrance to Broadway, is the small enclosure so-called from having been used as such prior to the Revolution. Here stood, at the commencement of the Revolutionary struggle, the leaden statue of George ILL, which was pulled down and melted into bullets, to be used by the Americans.

City Hall Park

Is an enclosure of about ten acres, containing the City Hall, Court House, and other public buildings, also the new United States Post Office, which is one of the finest buildings in America. A new fountain, which is very elaborate in appearance, has recently been erected in this Park.

Washington Square

Was formed by laying out the ground formerly occupied as a Potter's Field. On the east side is the University Building. South Fifth Avenue now bisects. this Park.

Union Square

Facing Broadway on the south and west, extends from Fourteenth to Seventeenth streets, and from Fourth avenue to University place. At the south side is the bronze equestrian statue of Washington, and opposite, on Broadway side, stands the statue of Abraham Lincoln.

Gramercy Park

Situated a little to the northeast of the above, is a select and beautiful enclosure on a smaller scale. This Park is private property, having been ceded to the owners of the surrounding lots by Samuel B. Ruggles, Esq.

Stuyvesant Park

Extends from Fifteenth to Seventeenth street, and is divided by the intersecting passage of the Second avenue. The Rev. Dr. Tyng's Church is upon the west side of this Park. The ground was presented by the late Peter Q. Stuyvesant, Esq., to the corporation of this Church.

Tompkins Square
Ten and one-half acres in extent, occupying the area formed by Avenues A and B, and Seventh and Tenth streets, is now used as a parade ground, but orders have been issued to place it in its former condition as a park.

Madison Square

Comprising ten acres, is at the junction of Broadway and Fifth Avenue. On the west side stands the monument of General Worth. Facing the square stands the Fifth Avenue Hotel.

Reservoir Park

Reservoir Square is located between the Fifth and Sixth avenues, and Fortieth and Forty-second streets, and has an extent of between nine and ten acres, upon one-half of which is the Distributing Reservoir. The other, or western half, once had upon it the New York Crystal Palace, but since the destruction of that building by the fire of 1858, the grounds have been kept open as a park.

Mt. Morris Square

Mt. Morris Square presents the anomalous appearance of an abrupt hill, with thickly-wooded sides, rising from the midst of a plain that has no other hills upon it. It "heads off" the Fifth avenue at One-hundred-and-twentieth street, and extends as far north as One-hundred-and-twenty-fourth street, and its area is over twenty acres. This is a favorite resort for the citizens of Harlem
and its vicinity.

Riverside Park

Situated on the bank of the noble Hudson, between Seventy-second and One-hundred-and-twenty-ninth streets, is a long narrow strip of land, almost  entirely on the river slope, comprising some eighty-two acres, and at present possessing no other than natural beauties. When finished as proposed, it will, no doubt, be the noblest park in the world of its extent.

Morningside Park

Is another grand contemplated improvement, being a newly laid out piece of ground forming the area between Eighth and Tenth avenues and One-hundred-and-tenth to One-hundred-and-twenty-third streets. The land here is so excessively irregular that it could not have been, under any circumstances, adapted to building purposes.

Under the control of the present Commissioners, all of the above-named parks have lately undergone a marked improvement. Many of them, more especially the Battery Grounds, were a disgrace to the city, but they are now being fast transformed into miniature paradises ; all have been entirely remodeled, and in some the changes have been so radical that they would not be
recognized as the old spots by persons who have been absent from the city for the past five years ; Union Square, Washington Square and the Battery Grounds, are notable instances of the entire and complete changes that have been effected; the most prominent  of these is the removal of the iron railings and fences, and the placing of numerous lights along the paths, making all portions of the ground as visible as in the day time. Let these contemplated improvements be finished as proposed, then New York, including the attractions of Central Park, will be a most splendid metropolis, equal to any city in the world as regards ornament and commercial advantages.

Central Park

The largest of all our parks, was laid out in 1857. It is two and one-half miles long, three-fifths of a mile wide, and contains 843 acres. It has cost over $12,000,000, and is now maintained at an annual expense of about $250,000. It has twelve entrances, contains five and a-half miles of bridle path, nine and a-half of carriage roads, and twenty-eight miles of walks. The old Arsenal, at the southeast entrance, is a three-story stone structure, filled with the collections of the society of "American Museum of Natural History." Outside of this structure are large cages, with bears, eagles, serpents, and many other varieties of animals.

The lakes and fountains in the Park are exquisitely beautiful. The old Croton, Reservoir covers 35 1/2 acres, and new Croton Reservoir 106 1/2 acres, elevated 115 feet above tide water. In the northern section stands the old convent, the chapel of which is now a gallery of art, containing the finest collection of statuary in the country. Near this are also the Nursery grounds, covering two and a-half acres. A large Zoological Garden is constructed, with underground accommodations for bears, seals, the walrus, beaver, &c.

The Park contains the best Meteorological Observatory in America; also a fine Astronomical Observatory. There is also a Paleozoic Museum, containing life- size representations of most of the animals believed to have existed in America during the secondary and post-tertiary geological periods. The Park, exclusive of the water areas, contains 707 1/2 acres, the total area being 843 acres ; as a whole it is a museum of genius and curiosity, presenting everywhere the choicest aspects of nature and art.

No wagons or carts are allowed on its drives, but by an ingenious device four streets cross it from Fifth to Eighth avenues, under the Park roads; these streets are 65th, 79th, 85th, and 97th. The Second, Third, and Fourth avenue cars convey passengers to 65th street, on the east side of the city, and Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth avenue cars convey passengers on the west side of the city ; also, the Elevated Railroad, running through Greenwich street and Ninth avenue.

Central Park: Areas of Surface, &c.

Length of Park from 59th to 110th Street________________    13,507 feet
Breadth of Park from 5th to 8th avenue____________________2,718 feet
Superficial area_________________________________________843 Acres
Superficial area ground known as Manhattan Square___________   19 Acres
Total Park area  [862 Acres]


Website: The History
Article Name: Parks and Public Squares in New York City 1876
Researcher/Transcriber Miriam Medina


BIBLIOGRAPHY: New York As It Was and As It Is; Giving An Account of the City From Its Settlement to the Present Time: Compiled by John Disturnell, published by D. Van Nostrand-New York 1876.
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