Hedge fund manager and Queens native John Paulson wrote the biggest check ever made to a public park today: $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy.
Part of the donation will go to support the park’s endowment, and part will be used to restore more areas of the park.
Expect the North Woods and Merchant’s Gate at the park’s southeast corner to get special attention — Paulson mentioned both areas in his speech.
To put the gift in perspective, since 1980 the conservancy has raised $550 million from hundreds of thousands of people. The conservancy raises about 85% of the park’s budget, with the city covering the rest.
“Walking through the park in different seasons, it kept coming back that in my mind Central Park is the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions,” Paulson said at a Tuesday press conference at Bethesda Fountain, according to the Times. “And I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small.”
Paulson made a ton of money betting against the housing market. More recently, he’s been less successful.
This gift brings up an interesting question. Central Park is treated kind of like the U.S. Constitution — as if it was perfect when it was created and no one should ever do anything to it except maintain it. That’s why so many people freaked out about The Gates a few years ago. But a gift like this could allow the conservancy to do something new, maybe make the park more accessible or create a new feature or two. If you have any ideas for something you’d like to see in the park, let us know in the comments.
Photos via the Central Park Conservancy.