In the 1840s, an assembly of affluent and civic-minded New Yorkers,
concerned that commerce and industry were "eating up" the island,
agitated for a grand central park.
Concerned that commerce was taking over New York City, leaving
little or no open spaces for rest, recreation, and relaxation,
led William Cullen Bryant, poet and editor of the New York Evening Post, to write: "If we would rescue any part of it [Manhattan Island],
for health and recreation, it must be done now."
From 1849 through 1853, park advocates, wealthy park opponents,
the city legislature, and the courts debated issues concerning
if, when, and where a "grand" park for New York City would be
In the summer of 1853, the city government authorized taking the
land between 59th and 106th Streets, between Fifth and Eighth
Avenues, by eminent domain to lay the grounds for a public park.
Property owners in the land designated for the new park would
receive compensation, and all residents would be forced to vacate
beginning in 1856.
Approximately 1,600 people, spread over 7,500 lots of land, were
directly affected by this decision. Nearly 300 of them lived in
This is the West Drive near 85th Street in Central Park, the site
of Seneca Village.