central park in early morning light
The pace of New York was already so hectic it left foreign visitors nerve-wracked. “Nothing and nobody seem to stand still for half a moment in New York,” complained Lady Emmeline Stuart-Wortley in 1849. The huge omnibuses, she reported, “drive like insane vehicles from morning til night [and] appear not to pause to take up their passengers. ” Private oases in the uproar were few but conspicuous. By 1844 the Fifth Avenue (another example of the now-lost “the” in the grammar of old New York) had become the new center of wealth and fashion as far uptown as Fourteenth Street. Beyond lay a lightly populated anyman’s land, speckled with “pigtowns” of tin-roofed shanties, a few doomed farmsteads, and here and there, little rows of “town” houses waiting for the town to catch up. The undeveloped parts of Manhattan were, in the main, so disagreeable that few wealthy New Yorkers kept pleasure carriages; driving out of town brought no pleasure, a fact that was to have considerable bearing on the future Central Park.
For that future park the poet-turned-editor, William Cullen Bryant, timed his historic first blow for the July 3,1844, issue of the Evening Post, in which he pleaded for the immediate public creation of “an extensive pleasure ground for shade and recreation. ”
Source: American Heritage Society