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This "exemplary social history" (Kirkus Reviews) is the first full-scale account of Central Park ever published. Elizabeth Blackmar and Roy Rosenzweig tell the story of Central Park's people--the merchants and landowners who launched the project; the immigrant and African-American residents who were displaced by the park; the politicians, gentlemen, and artists who disputed its design and operation; the German gardeners, Irish laborers, and Yankee engineers who built it; and the generations of New Yorkers for whom Central Park was their only backyard. In tracing the park's history, Blackmar and Rosenzweig give us the history of New York, and bring to life larger issues about the meaning of the word "public" in a democratic society.