The Rejected Design for Central Park
Currently on display at the New-York Historical Society, this is the 8½ feet long rejected design for Central Park that was lost for years before being discovered in 2008 in an attic. The designer in engineer John Rink who was one of 33 entries in the 1857 design competition for the site. His park was to be a much more manicured Versailles-esque park, with plenty of elaborate topiary and zero open green spaces. The plan also details a two-winged museum.
In 1857, the Board of Commissioners of Central Park decided that they needed to actually build Central Park. So they announced a design competition to plan the site, with a reward of $2,000. The Board chose Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux’s winning entry, which elegantly balanced open and designed spaces with wilderness, from 33 entries, only five of which have survived today.
Two of the rejected designs are currently on display at the New York Historical Society, for a look at the Central Park that could have been. One was designed by John Rink, whose design favored symmetry and formal gardens over the open, flowing design of Olmsted and Vaux. The formal gardens are designated by their shapes, like the Star Ground and Spiral Ground, and roads and entrance gates are named after United States presidents and patriots.