As one of the most visited outdoor spaces in the United States, Central Park is one of the most famous landmarks of New York City. Every year, 40 million people visit the park for its charm and history. The park was originally established in 1857, but did not become popular until it was redesigned at the start of the 20th century.
During this redesign, led by Robert Moses, several roadways were added inside of the park, which helped to popularize the park for Manhattan residents, and made for a shortcut cross the park for drivers and pedestrians alike.
However, beginning June 27 of this year, privately owned automobiles will not be permitted to drive through the roads of Central Park. Though Mayor Bill de Blasio previously banned private automobiles from driving through the northern end of the park in 2015, this new ban will prevent vehicles anywhere in the entire park.
“Our parks are for people, not cars,” de Blasio told the press. “For more than a century, cars have turned parts of the world’s most iconic park into a highway. Today we take it back. We are prioritizing the safety and the health of the millions of parents, children, and visitors who flock to Central Park.”
This ban will not apply to emergency vehicles, nor will it have any impact on vehicles using the four below-grade crosstown routes that were part of its original design.
This has not been the only case of cities restricting cars from urban parks in recent years. Cities such as London, Paris, and several cities in Germany have cracked down on private vehicle access to urban parks, putting time and car-size restrictions in place. Even the efforts to remove cars from Central Park has been underway for over 5 decades, slowly adding more and more restrictions over the years that have led to this complete ban.
The reactions of New Yorkers to this ban have been mixed. Many believe that this new ban will make the park safer and more enjoyable for children and families, while many – particularly cab and Uber drivers – believe that this will hurt their profits. Those who are happy about this change are excited that New York City is taking steps to become a cleaner, healthier, and environmentally friendly city.
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