The Eighteen Gates of Central Park: From Concept to Reality (Over 100 Years Later!)
The last touch in the construction of Central Park was the naming of it’s various entrances, called ‘gates’.
When we think of ‘gates’ we generally think of something ornate, even elaborate, but these ‘gates’ or entrances, of which there are eighteen, are humble indeed.
If one isn’t on the alert, one can pass their inscriptions without even noticing they are there (see photo to the right).
This, however, is what makes them so wonderfully unique, for they become an expression, not of pomp and circumstance, but of the simple democratic principles on which Central Park was laid.
Their names, like their inconspicuous placement, are equally humble: Boys, Women’s, Strangers’, Hunters’, Mariners’, Engineers’, Scholars, Artists’, Artisans’, Warriors’, Pioneers’…to name just a few.
The city commissioners decided that using street numbers wasn’t in keeping with the spirit of a public park and so named them after the various professions and occupations most common at the time.
Strangely, the vast majority of the names were never carved at their assigned places until 1999, over one hundred years later. Quite likely, it had to do with lack of private funding, since the city felt it was something that should be born by private interests. In any case, the original names were finally inscribed (by private interests) according to the original intent.
I found it so compelling that several of them had to do with the various professions that Olmsted himself tried (and later abandoned) in his lifetime, that I decided to make them a theme in Books Three and Four of my young adult adventure series, Central Park Story.