Down The Rabbit Hole

I was really trying to accomplish a very simple task: name all of the gates that enter into Central Park. It should be a simple, straight-forward sort of thing, right?

Here's the story, Olmsted and Vaux, who designed Central Park, named each of the 20 entrances to the park after the type of people that they expected to enter through that gate. Mostly it is a list of popular occupations of the time, Mariners, Engineers, Artisans, Woodsmen, etc. but there are a few others a Boys Gate, a Girls Gate, a Childrens Gate, and a Womens Gate (oddly no Mens Gate). The problem is that in the lists I've seen there are discrepancies. Some list gates that others don't, several disagree on the name of a few of the gates, etc. In my research I ended up spiraling down the rabbit hole a bit, getting a bit far afield of my topic, and deeper into the rather fascinating history of Central Park. Then I stumbled across the Annual Reports of The Central Park Commission, several of which are available through Google Books and things really went off the rails.

These reports are chock full of things I never knew about the park, proposed buildings, statues, and other structures that either were never built or no longer exist in their original form. Then there are fun facts like the amount originally paid for all of the animals in the zoo, and which animals were originally intended to roam freely in the park (deer!!). And the general weirdo ideas that the designers had like a walking mall lined with bird cages full of exotic birds and dove-cots. I can't imagine that ever working, much less these days, though as Kid Flash just pointed out to me it is easy to imagine the Victorians being interested in such an idea.

A fascinating collection of information to be sure, if you have any interest at all in the park, then or now, you should check it out!

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