After becoming public property in the 1600s, the area now known as Bryant Park was converted into a potter’s field in 1823. The city decommissioned it after 17 years to build a reservoir. This reservoir was a great engineering triumph for 19th-century America. The City Council eventually wanted a public park built nearby, and it was constructed in 1870. It was not until 1884 that the park earned its current moniker. This was done in dedication to poet/editor William Cullen Bryant. In the 1920s, the northern half of the park was closed off due to subway construction. The original reservoir was demolished in 1900. After a period of serious decline, the Rockefellers established a Restoration Corporation. By the 1990s, their efforts had reduced crime by 92% and doubled the number of visitors. The end of the millennium saw the creation of a “formal French garden” flair for the park’s style.
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