Sheep Meadow, Central Park

Sheep Meadow, Central Park

The Sheep Meadow, Central Park, was the largest open meadow feature in the original plan for Central Park, New York City, as it was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. Sheep grazed the meadow until the 1930s, when they were removed to Prospect Park, Brooklyn, by Robert Moses.

The open space had been a requirement of the design competition for the Central Park, which specified a parade ground for military exhibitions as a required feature of the park. Olmsted and Vaux's winning "Greensward" design offered a reduced parade ground, sited towards the western side of the proposed park. [Rosenzweig, Roy, and Elizabeth Blackmar. "The Park and the People: A History of Central Park." Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1992:142f.] To produce the almost thirty acres of "level or but slightly undulating ground" in the specifications, ten acres of poorly draining ground was filled to a depth of two feet, disruptive boulders and a rocky ridge that stood sixteen feet out of the finished grade were blasted out, and the reshaped landscape was covered with topsoil. [Rosenzweig and Blackmar 1992:165] Few sunbathers today realise the effort that created this "natural" grassy terrain.

Elements of the sheepfold, designed, like all structures in the park, by the English architect Calvert Vaux, may still be recognized in the much-enlarged, elaborated and revamped Tavern on the Green.


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