New York City is endowed with many iconic parks, perhaps none more famous worldwide than Central Park. But its existence was not foreordained by the early planners of New York City, who had intended that whole swath of land to be a continuation of the street grid. But there are many parks older than Central Park, some of which are even older than the Declaration of Independence.
Each of these parks have seen their fair share of history, not all of it peaceful, though all are beloved by residents and visitors. Here are New York City’s 10 oldest parks:
1. Bowling Green Park (1733)
Bowling Green Park is New York City’s oldest park, created in 1733, and deeply rooted in the city’s history. Over the past 200 plus years, the park has served many purposes including a cattle market, parade ground and an actual bowling green by the Dutch (and later the English) for lawn bowling in the 18th century. The park is surrounded by its original 18th-century fence, which also happens to be the oldest in the city and is a New York City landmark. This iconic park is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, and the famous Charging Bull is located on the northern end of the park.
In 1770, a statue of King George III was dedicated in Bowling Green. However, this statue was later destroyed in 1776 along with several other British symbols in New York in a riot after a public reading of the Declaration of Independence on July 9. Today, pieces of the original statue can be found at the New-York Historical Society and in other locations around the world. Learn more about this park and surrounding area on this weekend’s tour of the Remnants of Dutch New Amsterdam.