Central Park Mall
Harvey Bradley Dodworth
2 June 2016
“Paris has its Champs Elysees, Berlin its Unter den Linden, and London its Hyde and other parks, but before all stands forth the Park of New York. Micat inter omnes—‘it shines out from its surroundings’—as Virgil described the young Marcellus on his visit to the lower regions. The progress that has been made in this garden of Manhattan, since its commencement some seven years ago up to the present time, is something marvelous. Here was a rocky wilderness, part marsh, part waste, with rocky boulders jutting up from amidst the dwarf herbage. Not ten years back many a New Yorker would go gout to where the Park now is for a country ride, and when Thirtieth Street was passed they had left the ‘din of cities and busy haunts of men’ far behind them. The hands of man have been as busy as the efforts of nature, and the old proverb has been exemplified that man made the city if God made the country. The wilderness adjacent to Bloomingdale has been transformed into a Peri’s paradise—a garden of gardens for the present and future generations of New Yorkers. The old wilderness exists no longer.
One of the greatest charms of the place to the mind of a visitor accustomed to the jealously guarded walled-in grounds of Europe is its openness to the public. The Saturday afternoon concerts at the Park have been made a very noticeable feature and lend an additional charm to the place. Music has charms to soothe ‘the savage beast and roaring cow,’ as a facetious quoter reads the poet, and it always has greater charms when associated with the telling scenic effects of nature. The success of these Saturday afternoon concerts is amply testified to by the crowds who every Saturday flock to them, and audiences appear to be increasing every successive week. Thousands upon thousands can be seen stretched on tangling grass about the pavilion, drinking in with open ears the weird strains of Weber, the grand Beethoven and the majestic Mozart. The programme yesterday was most judiciously chosen . . . The different pieces were performed in the usual delightful manner, the overture to William Tell and the Ariel Galop being worthy of special notice.
Towards six o’clock the people began to return to their homes, and at nightfall the Park was left to enjoy the solitude of its own charms. It might be considered exaggeration to number the vast crowds present in the Park yesterday, but suffice it to say that there were thousands beyond a doubt.”