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Central Park Celebrates its 150th Birthday

Standards and the man-made “backyard” for the city that never sleeps

New York, Jun 06, 2003

With 20 million visitors each year, New York City’s Central Park is the most frequently visited urban park in the United States. This sprawling oasis of nearly 850 acres comprises more than fifty-eight miles of pedestrian paths winding through open lawns, playgrounds, hidden gardens, zoos, museums and more than 150 acres of ponds and lakes. Today, 150 years since its inception, these elements conform to certain standards in one way or another.

In 1858, the park’s designers, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted, did not have ISO 11091:1994 to follow. This standard, which establishes general rules and specifies graphical symbols and simplified representations for landscape drawing practice, might have made their workload easier as they developed the plans that are now now on display at the Metropolitan Museum. They could also have benefited from the new draft standard for general terms used in building and civil engineering (ISO/FDIS 6707-1), which ensures uniformity in planning.

Fortunately, the property on which Central Park is now situated was well defined before environmental hazards became a concern. If the site were being developed today, the ASTM standard for environmental site assessment (ASTM E1527-00) could be used to identify the presence of any hazardous substances or petroleum products that might be released into the ground, groundwater, or surface water of the property.

Maintenance of the park requires an annual $20 million operating budget funded in large part by the Central Park Conservancy. Conservancy crews, which account for three out of every four Central Park employees, aerate and seed lawns; rake leaves; prune and fertilize trees; plant shrubs and flowers; maintain ballfields and playgrounds; remove graffiti; conserve monuments, bridges, and buildings; and care for waterbodies and woodlands, controlling erosion, maintaining the drainage system, and protecting the Park’s lakes and streams from pollution, siltation and algae.

ANSI/ASAE S323.2-1995 is a standard developed by the American Society of Agricultural Engineers, an ANSI-accredited standards developer, which defines power mowing equipment such as that used for care of the park’s lawns. Other ASAE standards address safety and equipment requirements for lawn care machinery, including fertilization equipment.

Tree care, on the other hand, conforms to the A300 family of standards developed and maintained by the Tree Care Industry Association (TCIA), (formerly know as the National Arborist Association), an ANSI-accredited standards developer. The International Society of Aboricultural Operations (ISA) – ANSI member organization – also develops guidelines for the certification of tree care workers so that they remain safe while pruning, trimming, repairing, maintaining and removing trees.

The playgrounds that are so important to families with children are carefully built to ASTM F1487 –01e1: standard consumer safety performance specification for playground equipment for public use. The fences or barriers that surround these playgrounds are constructed in accordance to ASTM F2049-00, which is standard guide of the minimum requirements needed. Even playground surfaces must adhere to a set of standards. ASTM F 1951-99 and ASTM F 2223-03 ensure the safety and accessibility of surface systems under and around playground equipment.


For more information on Central Park’s 150th birthday and event listings, visit the Central Park Conservancy website.

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