New York Central Park boss visits Merseyside template

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The man in charge of one of the world's most famous parks has made his first visit to its Merseyside template.

Doug Blonsky, president and chief executive of New York's Central Park, has toured Birkenhead Park.

Central Park was designed by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead following a visit to Birkenhead in 1850.

Prof Robert Lee, chair of the Friends of Birkenhead Park, hopes the visit will improve links between the parks.

Mr Blonsky said it was "a big deal" for him to visit the park.

'First park'

"We look forward to developing an exciting and productive exchange programme between Birkenhead Park and Central Park, New York, which will bring together park staff and volunteers and reinforce the community importance of two of the world's most important parks," he said.

Wirral Councillor Chris Meaden, cabinet member for culture, tourism and leisure, said the council was delighted to welcome Mr Blonsky.

NYC Central Park boss Doug Blonsky swaps the Hudson for the Mersey.

He added: "The ties between our two parks are well known, and we face similar challenges in protecting and conserving our green spaces in the modern world."

Birkenhead Park was opened on Easter Monday 5 April 1847 by Lord Morpeth and is regarded by some historians as the world's first public park, and was also one of the UK's first municipal green spaces.

Philips Park in Manchester opened a year earlier but was funded by public subscription.

Birkenhead's landscaping and construction costs, estimated at more than £103,000, were met entirely by public funds and it was designed solely for public use.

Frederick Law Olmstead said after his 1850 visit: "Five minutes of admiration, and a few more spent studying the manner in which art had been employed to obtain from nature so much beauty, and I was ready to admit that in democratic America there was nothing to be thought of as comparable with this People's Garden."

The fruits of his inspiration were taken to New York where Central Park opened seven years later - one of the city's major landmarks and the backdrop to countless movies.

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