One of Central Parks favorite and most
well known green fields is the Sheep Meadow.
Its wide-open space and dynamic panoramic
view of New York Citys skyline has made it a
mecca for the young and young at heart.
Open from mid April through mid October,
this vast 15-acre green grass meadow is most
currently a social gathering place for sunbathing,
frisbee tossing and picnics; for this reason it is
very difficult to imagine it ever having had a
different purpose. Lovely oak, elm, maple and
plane trees border the edges of the Sheep
Meadow giving it a feeling of seclusion.
In 1858, the Park Commissioners requested
this area to be used as a parade ground for
military drills; yet by 1864 Olmsted and Vaux
had a different idea and transformed this
meadow into a grazing area for 200 sheep.
Although the name has lived on, the sheep
vanished in 1934, when the former Sheepfold
located at the western edge of the
Sheep Meadow was converted into a restaurant, The Tavern on the Green.
The pastoral nature of the Sheep Meadow would
radically change during the 1960s and 1970s when the
field was used for political causes, heavy sports
use and large-scale concerts. Vietnam protests,"gay-ins" and hippie "love-ins" were a sign of
the times, but it was the worst of times for
the lush green grass of the Sheep Meadow
which had become mutilated by the massive
With the changing times and extensive
restoration the area now reserved "for
quiet enjoyment" is once again a beautiful
green meadow that can draw crowds of
30,000 on a typical summer day. The past
along with some dark times seem forgotten
as bikini clad women sun themselves while
young guys toss frisbees into the air above
them. Kites fly high above the Sheep Meadow
as youngsters run in the grass desperately
holding onto their cords. Every year, the
Sheep Meadow continues to attract a loyal
following as it brings fun and relaxation to all.