According to the New York Times, NYC’s most popular parks are packed to capacity and in some unfortunate cases have fallen victim to overcrowding. Concerns are being raised about whether the existing infrastructure can cope with the teeming crowds, and what the city will do next to accommodate the growing interest.
Since 2011, Central Park has seen an increase in 7 million visitors as it is expected to reach approx 42 million visitors by the end of the year. The conservancy that manages the park recently announced a $300 million fundraising campaign to refurbish large sections of park and deal with the wear and tear that has occurred throughout recent years.
Brooklyn Bridge Park has seen its attendance double from 63,408 in 2011 to 127,307 last year. In Astoria Park, a volunteer group has hired more cleaners to deal with the trash problems, and in fact has now started handing out plastic bags to visitors to clean up after themselves.
The major heat wave that New York has been experiencing over the last few weeks has caused the over crowding to overflow onto the city’s most popular beaches. The number of beach goers has increased from 18.1 million in 2014 to 22.8 million last year — an increase of almost five million people in just one year. At McCarren Pool in Williamsburg, crowds have swelled from 129,723 in 2014 to 150,149 last year.
The city’s Parks Department is trying to counter this surge in many ways. There are currently 500 parks projects underway at existing and new parks, including the recently approved underground garden, The Lowline. The Department has hired 500 seasonal workers at a cost of $6 million for the upkeep of heavily used parks, and in addition it has also set aside a large chunk of funds to improve under-financed parks throughout the city.