Green isn't the first word that pops into most people's head when they think of New York City. Yet, in the middle of Manhattan Island is the most visited park in the United States, with 35 million visitors a year. Central Park, a National Historical Landmark, takes up 843 acres of land. It is a green space where people go to escape the noise and crowds of urban life. Before it opened in 1857, it wasn't an empty space. People lived on that land. They were mostly poor free blacks, Irish, and Italian immigrants. They were forced off the land to construct the park.
One section of the park is called Sheep Meadow. Now it's just a grassy area where people can lie in the sun, but actual sheep used to graze there from 1864 to 1934. The sheep from there were eventually moved to another park in the city. Many events take place in Central Park, especially in the warm spring and summer months. There is an outdoor theater, where Shakespeare's plays are performed. The plays are free, which causes such high demand that people line up for hours before performances to get inside. There are also free music concerts. Every summer a stage is set up. These Summer Stage concerts feature musicians from all over the world. Both the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera also host free performances in the park in the spring and summer. There are also two small zoos inside the park, and a number of small lakes in the park. One of the lakes rents out small mechanical sailboats. There is also a puppet theater and a carousel for kids.
The park is not dead in the winter. When it snows, families often go to sled or to go ice-skating in an outdoor rink owned by Donald Trump.
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