A Look to the Past: Central Park

From the time I was a little girl growing up in New York City in the ’70s, Central Park has been my oasis in one of the busiest cities in the world. It’s where I learned to roller-skate and ride a bike. It’s where I saw my first concert (Beach Boys and Chicago in Sheep Meadow), and walked with my first boyfriend through the Great Lawn.
But the Central Park of my childhood wasn’t what it is today; back then, the grass was dead, the benches were falling apart, and there was broken glass and garbage everywhere. We were actually afraid to go in after a certain hour.
The Central Park Conservancy changed all of this when it was founded in 1980. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Conservancy and its Women’s Committee, for which I serve as president, Central Park has been transformed into a jewel. The Conservancy now welcomes over 42 million visitors to Central Park each year and raises an incredible 75% of the annual $67-million operating budget from private donations. I get inspired every day knowing there are so many wonderful people willing to contribute their time and money so we can all enjoy the best park in the world.
The Women’s Committee, which has raised over $150 million since 1983, is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year and has committed to raise at least $5 million of the $10 million needed to restore the historic Conservatory Gardens, home of the Frederick Law Olmsted Awards Luncheon. I am so passionate about Central Park, having enjoyed its many benefits my entire life, and am so proud to be supporting the gold standard that the Conservancy has created.