The Central Park Conservancy announced Tuesday a $100 million gift from hedge fund manager John Paulson and his family's foundation -- the largest gift ever made to a city park.
At a news conference held inside the park at Bethesda Fountain, Paulson spoke of his family's connection to the park, recalling that his grandparents even had their first dates there.
Paulson said he also remembered seeing the park fall into disrepair during the 1970s, before the founding of the Central Park Conservancy in 1980, a non-profit organization that took over management of the park.
"The metamorphosis of Central Park has been extraordinary," Paulson said. "Forty million people visit the park each year, up 200 percent since the Conservancy took over."
Approximately 80 percent of Central Park's operating budget today comes from private funding.
The gift from the Paulson is expected to improve playgrounds, children's programs, recreation centers, irrigation systems and entrances throughout the park.