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This outdoor area is more than three hundred and forty hectares. It was the first public park built in the United States.

In eighteen fifty-eight a design competition was held to find the best idea for planning this huge area in the center of New York City. The winners were two landscape designers, American Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux from Britain.

It was not easy to create this park. It may look like a natural environment of lakes and woodlands, but it was entirely built by human labor.

Workers moved millions of cubic meters of stone and earth to clear the area. They brought in more than fourteen thousand cubic meters of fertile soil from New Jersey to make it possible to grow trees and other plants.

It took fifteen years to complete the project. Central Park was a huge success and helped create a movement across the United States for creating public gardens.

Today, the park is managed by the Central Park Conservancy under an agreement with the city of New York. The Conservancy raises about eighty-five percent of the park’s twenty-seven million dollar yearly budget.

Here are a few facts that help show just how big -- and busy -- Central Park is. It contains seven kilometers of paths for horseback riding and about ninety-three kilometers of walking paths. When you get tired from all that walking, there are more than nine thousand benches where you can sit down.

There are twenty-one playgrounds for children as well as areas to play basketball, baseball, football and even chess. There is also a zoo. And, every summer, visitors can watch plays by William Shakespeare in an outdoor theater. About twenty-five million people visit Central Park each year to enjoy its many sights and activities.

The park is also important for natural life. It contains more than twenty-six thousand trees. And hundreds of kinds of birds have been sighted in the park which serves as a stopping area for birds as they fly to other places.

This week, Central Park has been a good place to get into the spirit of Halloween. On Tuesday, there was a large party called the Halloween Ball. People attending the event wore wild clothing and took part in a competition for best costume. On Friday, brave children can visit the nineteenth century Belvedere Castle. Park organizers turned the building into a frightening place where families could enjoy both tricks and treats.

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