Happy Birthday Central Park! On this day in 1853, the state legislature voted to set aside 750 acres for the park. It would be several years before Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux finished the park’s design and construction, but the vote was the start of the whole process.

See three photos below of the park taken between 1910 and 1915 by the Bain News Service and archived by the Library of Congress. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

A Maypole celebration.

Hattie the elephant.

HISTORY, OUTDOORS | 12 comments | permalink
    1. Jens says:

      That elephant photo is just plain pathetic.

      • UWSHebrew says:

        imagine the whippings that elephant had to endure to train him to do that. I. Hate. The. Circus.

        • Westside_Mimi says:

          It’s simply cruel and inhumane to force animals to “perform” tricks to entertain.

      • james says:

        It’s pathetic to us now, much in the same way as how we view photos of slavery. hopefully, years from now, our children’s children will view this decade’s treatment of the LGBT community with the same disgust and disbelief.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          … or similarly, the idea that we didn’t guarantee healthcare for all.

          or the number of homeless on our streets.

    2. lynn says:

      I looked up Hattie on wiki and she was named after the trainer’s daughter and kept in the Central Park Zoo. Here’s the link but I couldn’t open the referenced material.

      “Hattie (died in 1922) was an elephant in New York City’s Central Park Zoo that in 1904 was described as the “most intelligent of all elephants”.[1] In 1911 she was described as “nearly human”.[2]

      She was purchased for $5,000 and trained by Bill Snyder who had trained elephants at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.[2] The elephant had been brought to New York City from Ceylon in 1903 by Carl Hagenbeck.[1] She died in November 1922 at the Central Park Zoo after a week-long illness.[3]”

      Nothing to do with Hattie, but I remember the CP zoo having an elephant (and large gorilla) on display in the early 80’s. I don’t know if they were ‘abused’ per se but it was depressing seeing them contained in such small areas.

    3. How good for the City it would be to bring horse stables inside Central Park…for riding and for the beloved carriage horses.

      • Cat says:

        I really miss the stables and the horses on the bridle path. Not the same with all of the tourists on citibikes now. 🙁

    4. JVHS says:

      No idea how old the zoo concept was, but this 1862 series by Victor Prevost (1820-1881) shows the Park when construction was still raw and fresh. Gives a great idea of the vision of Olmsted and Vaux before the plantings grew and layout/organization seemed a priori =

    5. Dale says:

      If this link works it talks about how she died. They tried to life her to keep the weight off of her PARALYZED HIND LEGS. Wonder how THAT happened. Sick