A heat map of where visitors enter Central Park from annually.
If the Census can count the number of people who live in Central Park, it would probably make sense to count the number of people who play in the massive park, right? The Central Park Conservancy certainly thinks so, and so—inspired by the count done in 2005 for The Gates—the group that manages the park did a full-on survey of who goes to there, when they go there and why. And the results [PDF] are interesting!
Between July 2008 and May 2009 more than 350 volunteers interviewed, observed and counted park visitors for the study. Then, once everything was collected, it took "over 800 hours of data entry and more time to coordinate, analyze and interpret the volume of data amassed."
But what did they find? Well, there are about 37 to 38 million visits to the park each year—made by roughly eight to nine million people. Nearly 70 percent of those visitors are New Yorkers (and an additional three percent come from the greater metropolitan area), while 12 percent come from from elsewhere in the States and 16 percent of the visitors are internationals. About half of all visits to the park last an hour or less.
Most surprising to us, about 75 percent of the park's visitors come through the southern half of the park, with the highest volume entrances being Columbus Circle, Grand Army Plaza and West 72nd Street. Those three entrances see a quarter of the park's traffic!
And what do people do in the park? They think, and walk, a lot. About two-thirds of park visitors come alone and about 85 percent of the activity recorded there is passive. Which doesn't mean that people in the park don't do active things, too. Jogging (10 percent of visitors) and playground visits (8.5 percent) are the most popular activities. And what about biking? When the survey was done, back when bicycling wasn't quite the hot button issue it is today, cyclists represented three precent of the park's visitors.
Now that the Conservancy has all this data, it isn't just going to let it go to waste. Based on the surprisingly low usage of the park's northern end, for instance, they are now "focusing on and developing tours and programs that will encourage and expand use of the Park's northern end." Meanwhile, "volunteer greeters will be placed at the most heavily used entrances to the Park to welcome and guide visitors."
There is a tremendous amount of data in the survey and we're sure we've missed some interesting tidbits, what stands out to you?