What New York’s Central Park COULD have looked like if a rejected design from 1858 had been approved

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Formal topiary gardens and roads named after U.S. Presidents – this is what Central Park could have looked like.

Newly-released renderings imagine what Manhattan’s famous park would look like today if an 1858 design by John Rink – the original copy of which is now housed at the New York Historical Society – had been given the go ahead.

In 1857, a competition was launched to find someone to design Central Park but Rink’s proposal was rejected in favour of a more naturally styled concept by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. 

Swapping wild woodlands for formal topiary gardens and roads named after U.S. presidents, this is what Central Park could have looked like if an original design wasn't rejected

Swapping wild woodlands for formal topiary gardens and roads named after U.S. presidents, this is what Central Park could have looked like if an original design wasn't rejected

Swapping wild woodlands for formal topiary gardens and roads named after U.S. presidents, this is what Central Park could have looked like if an original design wasn’t rejected

Newly-released renderings imagine what Manhattan's famous park would look like today based on an 1858 design by John Rink, which is now housed at the New York Historical Society

Newly-released renderings imagine what Manhattan's famous park would look like today based on an 1858 design by John Rink, which is now housed at the New York Historical Society

Newly-released renderings imagine what Manhattan’s famous park would look like today based on an 1858 design by John Rink, which is now housed at the New York Historical Society

The museum acquired the colourful and highly ornamented Rink design (seen here) in 2008, after it had been found rolled up in an attic. Alan Balicki, the chief conservator at the New York Historical Society, oversaw the drawing's conservation, which included surface cleaning and flattening

The museum acquired the colourful and highly ornamented Rink design (seen here) in 2008, after it had been found rolled up in an attic. Alan Balicki, the chief conservator at the New York Historical Society, oversaw the drawing's conservation, which included surface cleaning and flattening

The museum acquired the colourful and highly ornamented Rink design (seen here) in 2008, after it had been found rolled up in an attic. Alan Balicki, the chief conservator at the New York Historical Society, oversaw the drawing’s conservation, which included surface cleaning and flattening

But if Rink had been picked by the judging panel, Central Park would look completely different to how it does today.

The new renderings, commissioned by Budget Direct Travel Insurance, show how the 843-acre plot of land follows a symmetrical format.

Rink, who worked as a park engineer, wanted to create a manicured landscape, looking to grand European classical gardens for inspiration.

Instead of the natural-styled park Olmsted and Vaux envisioned, Rink yearned for carefully clipped borders and shaped shrubbery. 

In 1857, a competition was launched to find someone to design Central Park but Rink's proposal (seen above) was rejected in favour of a more naturally styled concept by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux




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In 1857, a competition was launched to find someone to design Central Park but Rink's proposal (seen above) was rejected in favour of a more naturally styled concept by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux

In 1857, a competition was launched to find someone to design Central Park but Rink’s proposal (seen above) was rejected in favour of a more naturally styled concept by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux

A view of what Central Park looks like today, modelled after the winning design by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux

A view of what Central Park looks like today, modelled after the winning design by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux

A view of what Central Park looks like today, modelled after the winning design by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux

Rink, who worked as a park engineer, wanted to create a manicured landscape, looking to European classical garden design for inspiration

Rink, who worked as a park engineer, wanted to create a manicured landscape, looking to European classical garden design for inspiration

Rink, who worked as a park engineer, wanted to create a manicured landscape, looking to European classical garden design for inspiration

In total, there were 33 designs entered into the Central Park design contest, with each entrant vying for a $2,000 (£1,560) cash price (almost $60,000/£47,000 in today’s money).

The New York Historical Society says that only five of the original designs have survived.  

The museum acquired the colourful and highly ornamented Rink design in 2008, after it had been found rolled up in an attic.

Alan Balicki, the chief conservator at the New York Historical Society, oversaw the drawing’s conservation, which included surface cleaning and flattening.

Rips were also mended and filled with paper or pulp, and stains from water damage reduced. The design, which is dated March 20, 1858, has been on display several times at the museum. 

In total, there were 33 designs entered into the Central Park design contest, with each entrant vying for a $2,000 (£1,560) cash price (almost $60,000/£47,000 in today's money 

In total, there were 33 designs entered into the Central Park design contest, with each entrant vying for a $2,000 (£1,560) cash price (almost $60,000/£47,000 in today's money 

In total, there were 33 designs entered into the Central Park design contest, with each entrant vying for a $2,000 (£1,560) cash price (almost $60,000/£47,000 in today’s money 

Instead of the natural-styled park Olmsted and Vaux envisioned, Rink yearned for carefully clipped borders and shaped shrubbery

Instead of the natural-styled park Olmsted and Vaux envisioned, Rink yearned for carefully clipped borders and shaped shrubbery

Instead of the natural-styled park Olmsted and Vaux envisioned, Rink yearned for carefully clipped borders and shaped shrubbery


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