Central Park is an urban park in New York City located between the Upper West and Upper East Sides of Manhattan. It is the fifth-largest park in the city by area, covering 843 acres (341 ha). It is the most visited urban park in the United States, with an estimated 42 million visitors annually as of 2016, and is the most filmed location in the world.
The park’s first areas were opened to the public in late 1858. Additional land at the northern end of Central Park was purchased in 1859, and the park was completed in 1876. After a period of decline in the early 20th century, New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses started a program to clean up Central Park in the 1930s. The Central Park Conservancy, created in 1980 to combat further deterioration in the late 20th century, refurbished many parts of the park starting in the 1980s.
The 1960s marked the beginning of an “Events Era” in Central Park that reflected the widespread cultural and political trends of the period. In the summer of 1961, LIFE photographer Leonard McCombe documented New Yorkers enjoying pastimes and pleasures in the park, about a century old at the time.
(Photos by Leonard McCombe/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)