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Interpreting the Evidence

The Mall in Central Park, c. 1900

  • Documents in this Activity:
  • Historical Eras:

    Turn of the Century and WWI (1890 - 1930)

  • Thinking Skill:

    Historical Analysis & Interpretation

  • Grade Level:

    Lower Elementary
    Upper Elementary
    Middle School
    High School
    College University

  • Topics:


  • Primary Source Types:


  • Regions:

    New York City
    New York State

  • Creator:

    NYS Archives Partnership Trust Education Team

  1. Load The Mall in Central Park, c. 1900 in Main Image Viewer

Suggested Teaching Instructions

Document Description
People in the main walkway in Central Park on a sunny afternoon.
Historical Context
Central Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmstead in the mid 1800s.  This was the first park in America.  It covers 843 acres.  In the beginning, it was used by wealthy people.  They would ride in their horse-drawn carriages during the afternoons.  Women would socialize in the park, and concerts would be held there.  The first children’s playground was not built in this park until 1926.
Essential Question
How does the existence of leisure time influence culture and economy?
Check for Understanding
Describe the scene in the photograph and identify key aspects of culture and economy during this time period.
Historical Challenges
Find out how Frederick Law Olmstead hoped Central Park would be used.
Research some other places that Olmstead designed.
Interdisciplinary Connections
Math: Go out on the playground and measure an acre to get an idea of the size of Central Park, then figure out the area of the park in miles.
Science: Find out what kinds of trees and animals are found in Central Park.
English Language Arts: Design a park that would be useful to people of all ages living in your community.