Central Park Sidewalk Restoration Project Balances Accessibility, Preservation

The original tile and brick sidewalks now pose safety hazards and don’t fully serve modern accessibility and mobility needs.

1 minute read

March 17, 2024, 7:00 AM PDT

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


CLose-up of bottom of lamp post with NY CITY plaque on cobblestone sidewalk in Central Park, New York City.

arlenehauck / Adobe Stock

A project to repair 108 blocks of sidewalks around New York City’s Central Park will make them more accessible to people using wheelchairs, strollers, and other mobility devices.

As Anna Kodé explains the The New York Times, the granite blocks and asphalt tiles in the century-and-a-half year old sidewalks now pose safety and accessibility hazards. “When the paved sidewalks were originally being installed in the 1930s, over 70 years after the first section of the park opened to the public, there were no electric scooters, Citi Bikes or people getting in and out of Ubers. Natural impediments have cropped up, too: Overgrown tree roots push up sections of the sidewalk, and pools of storm water collect in its dips.”

Now, the Central Park Conservancy is undertaking a massive restoration project that aims to balance preservation with accessibility. The group plans to restore some of the original design patterns while enhancing accessibility and safety, as well as preserving the park's elm trees, one of the largest stands remaining in the country. “The park’s prized American elm trees are a large part of why the restoration will take years to complete. The conservancy planted 58 new trees around the perimeter and is taking care to disturb the existing roots as little as possible as it installs the new sidewalk blocks and benches.”

Friday, March 15, 2024 in The New York Times

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