The Attractions Of Central Park

Sheep Meadow: CW66-69

One of Central Park’s favorite and most well known green fields is the Sheep Meadow. Its wide-open space and dynamic panoramic view of New York City’s skyline has made it a mecca for the young and young at heart. Open from mid April through mid October, this vast 15-acre green grass meadow is most currently a social gathering place for sunbathing, frisbee tossing and picnics; for this reason it is very difficult to imagine it ever having had a different purpose. Lovely oak, elm, maple and plane trees border the edges of the Sheep Meadow giving it a feeling of seclusion. In 1858, the Park Commissioners requested this area to be used as a parade ground for military drills; yet by 1864 Olmsted and Vaux had a different idea and transformed this meadow into a grazing area for 200 sheep. Although the name has lived on, the sheep vanished in 1934, when the former Sheepfold located at the western edge of the Sheep Meadow was converted into a restaurant, Tavern on the Green. The pastoral nature of the Sheep Meadow would radically change during the 1960s and 1970s when the field was used for political causes, heavy sports use and large-scale concerts. Vietnam protests,"gay-ins" and hippie "love-ins" were a sign of the times, but it was the worst of times for the lush green grass of the Sheep Meadow which had become mutilated by the massive crowds. With the changing times and extensive restoration the area now reserved "for quiet enjoyment" is once again a beautiful green meadow that can draw crowds of 30,000 on a typical summer day. The past along with some dark times seem forgotten as bikini clad women sun themselves while young guys toss frisbees into the air above them. Kites fly high above the Sheep Meadow as youngsters run in the grass desperately holding onto their cords. Every year, the Sheep Meadow continues to attract a loyal following as it brings fun and relaxation to all.

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