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.

NEWS, OUTDOORS | 8 comments | permalink
    1. Scooter Stan says:

      Re: “…maybe make the park more accessible….”

      DEFINITELY!!! It is one of the sad little secrets that, as glorious as our park is, some (many?) parts CANNOT be fully utilized by anyone with restricted mobility, especially those in wheeled mobility devices like battery-powered scooters, wheelchairs, etc.
      That is basically because of (a) steps or stairways, and/or (b) high curbs bordering the various paths. It should be relatively easy to (a) provide sloping ramps near the steps and (b) reduce the height of those curbs.
      Much of the park is accessible, but the Conservancy should make every effort to remove whatever barriers still remain.
      Community Board 7 has linked up with a group mapping the UWS for accessibility. Perhaps the Conservancy could enlist their help in identifying areas that need attention. CB7’s former Chairperson, Mel Wymore, has been closely involved with the accessibility folks, and might be interested in helping the two entities get together.

    2. WashExpat says:

      I hope improvements to “North Woods” might include the Lasker Pool/Rink. I don’t know about its condition functionally, but aesthetically it is absolutely hideous to the point of being an eyesore. Olmsted and Vaux must have spun in their graves when that went up (and probably haven’t stopped spinning since).

    3. Tina says:

      Is it so incomprehensible to throw a few bucks at Riverside Park? Seriously, a grand or two would be nice.

      • H J Brown says:

        If they put more police in the North Woods and improve the landscape maybe the tourists will come. Tourists flock to the Metropolitan Museum and the West Siders goes to up to 90th Street.
        Paulson should divvy up the funds to Prospect Park or other viable park/communities. Central Park is too congested with runners and bicyclists. Comparatively, Mr. Paulson Trumps Donald.

    4. dcortex says:

      Thank you for developing a conscience, Mr Paulson.
      These are the proceeds from the package (ABACUS) he cooked up with Goldman Sachs to defraud investors.
      Congress failed to prosecute (no evidence remaining-they said). They pumped investors into the package while GS and Paulson shorted their own investment package, producing “MUPPETS”

    5. KC says:

      They should sink a substantial amount on getting rid of the rats. The park is overrun!

    6. Rat A. Tooey says:

      Re: “They should sink a substantial amount on getting rid of the rats. The park is overrun!”

      HEY! You don’t want us in Verdi Square (nice garbage buffet, b/t/w)! You don’t want us at Fairway! So where’s a rat to go? Leave us the park. We like nature as much as you do!

      — Rat A. Tooey

    7. Bob Wyman says:

      The Park should be fossil-fuel-free.
      Heated buildings in the park should replace their oil or gas heating systems with GeoExchange (geothermal) systems that reduce energy usage by between 40% and 70% and result in drastic reductions in operating costs.

      The Park should be green and provide a demonstration of sustainable, environment friendly building management strategies.

      Also, by leasing its underground resources to buildings like Tavern on the Green and the Metropolitan Museum, the park could not only improve the sustainability of those buildings but also generate revenue that could be used to strengthen the Park’s finances.