The Naming of the Gates from 1862 to 1999…Talk About a Time Lapse!
In 1862, the NYC Board of Commissioners decided to give names to the various ‘gates’ or entrances of Central Park. Most of the names were never carved in their designated places but nevertheless persisted in subsequent maps.
There are 18 original names in all: Artisans’, Artists’, Boys’, Children’s, Engineers’, Farmers’, Girls’, The Gate of All Saints, Hunters’, Mariners’, Merchants’, Miners’, Pioneers’, Scholars’, Strangers’, Warriors’, Women’s and Woodmen’s.
Those few that were actually carved include the Scholars’ Gate at 60th Street and Fifth; the Engineers’ Gate at 90th Street and Fifth; the Mariners’ Gate at 85th Street and Central Park West; the Inventors’ Gate at 72nd Street and Fifth; the Children’s Gate at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue and the ’76th Street’ Gate at 76th Street and Fifth.
Mr. Moses, a city commissioner, added the numerical ’76th Street’ gate to the park in the 1950s, violating an explicit proviso in the 1862 report by the park’s commissioners that clearly stated: ”The monotonous numerical system used to distinguish the thoroughfares of New York is at once felt to be unsuitable for park use.”
Mr. Moses also changed the name of Children’s Gate at 72nd Street to the Inventors’ Gate. Just beyond this gate, a statue of Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the telegraph, was added, and a new Children’s Gate was designated further south next to the zoo.
The names that hadn’t been carved, altered, or moved, were finally added in 1999 under the direction of the Central Park Conservancy.
Since many of the names refer to professions that Olmsted actually took part in himself (eight out of eighteen, according to my count!), one assumes he had at least some input into their actual naming. Hence, I made use of the various gates in my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story, by having them refer to specific occupations Olmsted engaged in during his lifetime and weaving them into my plot.