Synopsis by Bhob Stewart
Manhattan's well-planned Central Park covers 840 acres from 59th Street to 110th Street. The land was acquired by New York City in 1856. A year later, London-born Calvert Vaux (1824-95) came to America, later joining Frederick Law Olmstead (1822-1903), and these two landscape architects presented a design for the park which was accepted. Their plan involved 185 acres of lakes and ponds, extensive planting, bridle paths, walks, roads, and playgrounds. Famed filmmaker Frederick Wiseman explored much of the park for this 1989 documentary, while also considering the complex problems faced by the New York City Parks Department, which preserves and maintains the park, keeping it open and accessible to the public. New Yorkers use Central Park for a wide variety of activities -- walking, jogging, boating, bicycling, skating, music, theater, opera, concerts, parades, picnics, reading, and bird-watching. Tom Shales (Washington Post) described the documentary as "one of the most accessible and salutary films ever made by master documentarian Frederick Wiseman . . . Wiseman is one of the great filmmakers of our time."