The Central Park Conservancy and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Tuesday that hedge fund manager John Paulson is giving Central Park $100 million, the largest gift in the history of the city's public parks to date. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
They are calling it the largest private gift to any park, anywhere. It's $100 million from donor John Paulson, who made his fortune betting against the housing bubble and is now giving some of that money back to a park that is open to everyone.
"Central Park's significance to New York City cannot be overstated," Paulson said. "It's simply impossible to imagine what New York would be like without Central Park."
Half of the money will be added to the Central Park Conservancy's $144 million endowment. The other half will be used for improvements on the conservancy's wish list, which includes landscaping the southwest corner of the park near Merchants' Gate, the most trafficked of all the park's entrances, and restoration of the north woods, on the northwest end of the park.
The money will also go toward upkeep of the park's 21 playgrounds and other projects.
"Really, it's not funding any specific project," said Doug Blonsky of the Central Park Conservancy. "It's helping all the projects that we're going to be doing and there's going to be dozens."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city's parks have never been in better shape than they are today.
"Public-private partnerships have been essential to the unprecedented investment that we've made in parks across our city over the past decade and this gift really is going to allow us to build on that," he said.
Mayor Bloomberg, himself worth billions of dollars, is a leading member of the city's philanthropic community. Some say that has benefitted the city in ways the public may not even notice sometimes.
"It certainly helps that he's mayor and he has the personal contacts with the wealthier people," said George Arzt, a political consultant.
Officials hope this donation inspires other individuals to make contributions, perhaps not on the scale of this one. But every little bit counts. There are currently 40 million visitors to Central Park each year.