Jean Clark, Norma Dana, Marguerite Purnell, Betsy Barlow Rogers and Phyllis Wagner
Founders, Central Park Conservancy
2008 Rachel Carson Award Honorees
By 1980, Central Park's 843 acres were mired in a cycle of neglect. Inadequate funding led to disrepair and crime, leading many New Yorkers to abandon the park. But Elizabeth Barlow Rogers was determined to restore Manhattan's crown jewel, and the first public park built in the U. S., to its former luster. With New York City Parks Commissioner Gordon Davis and four other dynamic women who shared her vision - Norma Dana, Jean Clark, Marguerite Purnell and Phyllis Wagner* - she established the Central Park Conservancy.
Ms. Rogers became the first president of this innovative public-private partnership. The Conservancy's park-wide restoration effort embraced public lawns including Sheep Meadow, magnificent architectural structures like Bethesda Fountain, and gardens, including the Conservatory Gardens. The historic Dairy became a visitor center. The Conservancy also funds many public programs in the Park, from cultural series, to sports and recreation activities, to. educational programs nurturing the next generation of Park stewards.
Today, more than 25 million people, both New Yorkers and visitors from around the globe, enjoy Central Park each year. The Conservancy model has set new standards of excellence in park care, with parks across the city and around the world replicating the model. Its Founding Women inspired a lasting legacy, ensuring that Central Park will be a refuge and haven for future generations.
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