But the great new park planned for the city in the middle of the 19th century came pretty close to being created on the Upper East Side.
The idea of a park was first suggested in the 1840s, and by 1851, one site seriously considered was Jones’ Wood, 150 acres of dense forest overlooking the East River (above sketch from the NYPL).
Once a summer retreat for New York’s wealthy, Jones’ Wood was being used as a sort of amusement area for working-class residents, featuring beer gardens and dancing.
City authorities thought it would make an ideal retreat from the ills of urban life. But others, anticipating the city’s growth northward, realized it was better to put the new park in a central location.
Though the city approved both sites in 1853, only Central Park was developed, opening in 1859.
Jones’ Wood was slowly parceled out and turned into a residential and commercial area, with the remaining land falling victim to a fire in 1894.
It’s now the location of Upper East Side neighborhoods Lenox Hill and Yorkville.
Tags: central park, Central Park history, Jones' Wood, Lenox Hill, making of Central Park, Manhattan history, New York in the 1850s, New York in the 19th Century, parks of New York City, Upper East Side history, Yorkville