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A Secret Central Park Sanctuary Reopens to the Public After 90 Years

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The Central Park Conservancy has been restoring this section since 2001

A long closed, and little know section of Central Park has reopened to the public, the New York Times reports. Known as the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, this four-acre section that wraps around the Pond at the southeast corner of the park, was largely overlooked and overrun by weeds starting in the 1930s.

When Robert Moses took over as NYC Parks Commissioner in 1934, he closed off this space to make it a bird sanctuary. Known as "the Promontory" by the Park's designers Frederick Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, Moses' idea to convert it into a bird sanctuary never quite took off — the birds did arrive, but the plants selected for the area were all invasive species. Wisteria in particular caused the area to be completely overrun.

The Sanctuary was relegated to the back seat as the caretakers of the Park, the Central Park Conservancy decided to focus on other important upgrades. But in 2001, the Conservancy began to restore the space, and by 2013 they were offering select tours on the site — but that was a little known fact.

It was part of a $40 million project known as the Woodlands Initiative to restore parts of the 843-acre Park. What also helped towards the opening of the Promontory was the contribution of benches by New Yorker Sima Ghadamian, which now sit at the top of the Promontory.

The Conservancy added new pathways and a rustic gate as part of the restoration, and it's now open to the public, three days a week until June 30, and four days a week there onward until August 31.

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