New York Mayor Michael Bloomburg said of the project, "The Gates' will transform Central Park and challenge viewers to revisit their preconceptions of public art and urban parks" (Bloomberg). Many New Yorkers did not share in his enthusiasm. Reporter Webb continues, "Nearly everyone was initially aghast at the prospect of so intrusive a work in their piece of paradise, but the artists overcame all objections, promising to respect every twig and patch of turf by designing self-supporting structures that would leave no mark" (Webb). This is essentially how they finally managed to gain approval for their project.
Their artwork did create a new meaning for the park, because it showed the myriad uses for this incredible outdoor space. The park was created as an artistic endeavor, and Christo's work showed it can be a spectacular backdrop to equally spectacular artistic endeavors. Using bold colors and the bleak landscape (in winter) as a backdrop, the artists created gates that literally helped invite people into the park to explore its natural wonders. Billowing in the breeze, the nylon panels seemed to become one with the park, enticing people further and evolving into a grand entrance and promenade throughout the park. On a dark winter day, the banners were filled with light and hope, giving a new meaning to the park and what it can be used for. Many New Yorkers see the park as a natural wonder that should not include man-made items like Christo's artistic vision, but these mammoth artworks seem to fit in perfectly with the scale and scope of the park. If the park is to be truly democratic, and Olmstead and Vaux envisioned, it should be open to almost all uses (unless they are openly destructive and negative), because it is the people's park, and it is a naturally evolving and changing landscape.
It seems, because of Olmstead's and Vaux' vision of the park as an artistic creation, they would have been very pleased with "The Gates," and probably would have fought to have it erected many years before 2005. These men were forward thinkers who created the first urban oasis in America, and their vision and foresight would certainly carry them to look at this use of the park as perfectly fitting. The park has evolved through the centuries, just as Olmstead and Vaux believed it would. One of the reservoirs became the Great Lawn, and many other changes have taken place, largely due to the vision and implementation of the designers' plans. They knew plants and trees would grow, vistas would change, and the park would never be the same as it was when they built it. It seems that if they truly loved the park (and they did), they would welcome change, and welcome anything that brought new vitality to the park. Christo's and Jean-Claude's artwork did just this, so how could Olmstead and Vaux not approve?
In conclusion, New York's Central Park began as an extraordinary vision of an urban landscape in a bustling city, a place where city dwellers could escape the stresses of city life, if even for a few moments. Today, the park has achieved that goal and much more. It is a rich and revered city treasure hailed around the world as a monument to landscape architecture and park planning. It is known the world over, and has been used as a backdrop for numerous films and television shows. Although the park will continue to evolve in the future, one thing is certain. Central Park is a park for the people, and it should remain open and accessible to all the people who want to enjoy it, embellish it, and make sure it endures for centuries to come.
Bernstein, Joshua. "The Park and the People." Gotham Gazette. 2004. 20 Feb. 2008. http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/fea/20040713/202/1031
Bloomberg, Michael. "Letter from Michael R. Bloomberg." NYC.gov. 2005. 20 Feb. 2008. http://www.nyc.gov/html/thegates/html/letter.html
Editors. "150+ Years of Central Park History." CentralParkNYC.org. 2008. 20 Feb. 2008. http://www.centralparknyc.org/site/PageNavigator/aboutpark_history_cp_history_150yrs
Kowsky, Francis R. Country, Park & City: The Architecture and Life of Calvert Vaux. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.
Rosenzweig, Roy and Blackman, Elizabeth. The Park and the People: A History of Central Park. New York: Cornell Paperbacks, 1998.
Taylor, Dorceta E. "Central Park as a Model for Social Control: Urban Parks, Social Class and Leisure Behavior in Nineteenth-Century America." Journal…