Beginning on June 27th, the day after public schools close for the summer, New York City will ban all cars and trucks from Central Park, one of the world’s most iconic and famous parks.
“This park was not built for automobiles,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a speech the Friday before Earth Day. “It was built for people.”
The park, which consists of 843 acres of open, green space, is visited by more than 40 million people every year. There are roads that allow motorists to quickly access different parts of the park, but some argue that the park was not designed for cars, and the mayor agreed.
“Central Park will reach its full potential by going car free,” the mayor later tweeted from the official @NYCMayor account. “They didn’t design it for cars in 1857, and it’s not meant for cars today.”
“Now all of those people will have a safe, beautiful experience because this park will be car-free,” de Blasio said.
The fight for a car-free Central Park is not a new one. Activists have been pushing for the change for over 50 years.
De Blasio is well known for prioritizing environmental fights as mayor of New York. He announced earlier in 2018 that the city had filed suit against five oil companies for contributing to climate change and that the city will be fully divesting its pension funds from fossil fuel investments.
“Parks in this city are sacred because, probably more than any place, our parks are our refuge, they are where we do everything—little league, and kids learning on the playground how to play for the beginning of their lives,” de Blasio said. “For some of us, even more important things. My wife Chirlane and I got married under a tree in Prospect Park.”
“They are an oasis,” he added. “For some people, they are literally where they take their summer vacation, because that’s what they can afford, to be in a park and that’s even more important for those families.”