"For the beauty and ornament of the said street as well as for the recreation and delight for the inhabitants of this city" the military parade ground then known as Bowling Green was leased in 1733 to a group of citizens intent on creating a park. No doubt this prime piece of real estate could have fetched a much higher price but luckily for us other considerations prevailed. Now called Bowling Green, the site remains New York City's oldest public park. As New York City expanded, so did the need for spaces that provided sanctuary from the crowded living conditions and the clamor of iron-clad wheels on cobblestone streets. Bowling Green was soon joined by Battery Park, Tompkins Square Park, Washington Square Park, Madison Square Park and Mount Morris Park (now called Marcus Garvey Park), culminating in what has been called by many the masterpiece of urban planning in New York City: Central Park.
In conjunction with Central Park Conservancy's Celebration of Central Park's 150th birthday, the New-York Historical Society presents Urban Oasis: The Greening of Early New York, an exhibition and public program series that will explore the evolution of public parks as essential amenities to the health and happiness of city residents, from colonial times through the advent of Central Park. Historic prints, maps, guidebooks, paintings, photographs and newspapers of the from the New-York Historical Society's collections help to tell the tale.