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Arthur Ross Pinetum
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Arthur Ross PinetumThe Highlights
The Arthur Ross Pinetum is a four-acre landscape that features 17 different species of pine trees.
Evergreens played an important role in the original plan for Central Park. Designers Olmsted and Vaux planned a "Winter Drive" of pines, spruces and firs that stretched along the Park's western road from 72nd to 102nd Street. By the end of the 19th century, when the original trees needed replacement, they were replaced with deciduous trees. In the 1970s, native New Yorker and philanthropist Arthur Ross set out to return pine trees to Central Park.With his wife Janet, he became a "patron saint" of all things horticultural. Ross developed a passion for evergreens and first decided to hide buildings on the 86th Street Transverse Road with pine trees. Eventually Ross decided to plant a Pinetum and added about 35 trees a year with species from Macedonia, Japan, and the Himalayas. The Himalayan pines were his favorite, known as a hardy evergreen that grows 30 to 50 feet tall, with soft, blue-green needles. You can see them lining the pathways from the East Drive, along the Great Lawn to the West Drive. In 1971, Mr. Ross first approached the Parks Department with the idea to plant trees in Central Park on the West Drive. In 1978, he worked with Parks Commissioner Gordon J. Davis and then with Central Park Administrator Elizabeth Barlow to expand the pinetum from an informal planting of trees to a formal collection of pine trees of the world. The result was the creation of the Arthur Ross Pinetum, a four-acre sanctuary of trees located northwest of the Great Lawn. The pinetum expanded over the years with annual tree plantings and is currently composed of a variety of pine and coniferous tree species. It remains one of the great hidden treasures of Central Park. During the summer, it is one of the coolest places in the park, and during the winter, especially when it snows, it resembles a quaint and contemplative piece of New England, right in the middle of New York City. The Pinetum playground is located within the Arthur Ross Pinetum. With its open setting (there is no fence), the playground is often enjoyed by adults as well as children. The area also includes picnic tables and open lawns, making it a great spot for picnicking. It is the remnant of a much larger playground that was built in the 1930s.