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Construction of Central Park a Marvel of Public Planning and Project Delivery Innovation

As we approach Oracle Industry Connect 2018, we continue to draw inspiration from our host city of New York. This time, we look at the vision, creativity, and engineering and design innovation behind the creation of one of the city’s most loved and enduring public spaces, Central Park.

Called by some the “crown jewel of New York,” Central Park is an expansive and vibrant green space in upper Manhattan. One of the largest public works projects of the 19th century in New York City, the development of Central Park involved more than 20,000 workers transforming what was a challenging topography – considered unsuitable for other types of development at the time – into one of the world’s most admired and replicated urban parks.

Intended as a place for the people, the park had an appropriately democratic genesis: planning began with the country’s first landscape design contest. Frederick Law Olmsted, the park’s superintendent, and Calvert Vaux, an English architect, submitted the winning concept – known as the Greensward Plan – prevailing over 32 other submissions and ensuring their future as design icons.

The park is designed to represent a microcosm of New York State, with the southern section showcasing more formal features, evoking the city and its suburbs, and the northern parts reflecting the more rural upstate regions.

While much of the nearly 850-acre park feels quite bucolic, it is almost entirely man-made — with the exception of its famous rock outcrops and the native woodland that stands in the northwest corner. Transforming the site’s swamps into lakes required a complex engineering feat that included extensive grading and drainage systems. Other features required similarly heroic efforts. According to the park’s official history, after “blasting out rocky ridges with more gunpowder than was later fired at the Battle of Gettysburg, workers moved nearly 3 million cubic yards of soil and planted more than 270,000 trees and shrubs."

Even the road system traversing the park was innovative. Olmsted and Vaux designed a network of sunken roads featuring landscape grading and plants to facilitate cross-town traffic while maintaining expansive views and minimizing noise. The gracefully curving roads were also intended as a form of 19th century traffic control – discouraging their use for horse and carriage races.   

The ongoing story of Central Park and New York’s other green spaces is fascinating one, and that’s why were so excited to welcome one of the people shaping the future of New York’s landscape to Oracle Industry Connect in April. Diane Jackier, who is chief of capital strategic initiatives for New York City Parks and Recreation, will present on her work and Oracle experience at the event. Read more about Diane in our “Speakers in Focus” blog post.

Innovation continues to thrive in today’s construction and engineering industry.  You just need to know where to look. We invite you to join us at Oracle Industry Connect, April 10-11, where Oracle Construction and Engineering, our customers and other thought leaders will together explore the cutting-edge ideas, tools, and approaches that are shaping the future of project delivery. For more information and to register, visit us here.

Read insights from the Oracle Industry Connect 2018 report here.


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