The Sheep Meadow
In the original 1858 Greensward plan for the park, this 15-acre area was called "The Parade" and nominally intended for drills and displays of target and military companies - an activity that was associated with public parks in that era. However, as early as 1859, park architect Olmstead was referring to the area as the "country green or open common" and subsequent requests by military companies to use the space were rejected as incompatible with the design of the park. In response to continued pressures brought on by the fervor of the Civil War, the park board began grazing sheep on in the meadow, although the area was used sporadically for military displays until a 1865 state law (pushed through by commissioner Andrew Green) explicitly banned military parades in Central Park. However, the sheep remained and the name "Sheep Meadow" finally took hold in the early 20th century. (Rosenzweig pp 252)
The sheep were removed by Robert Moses as part of a $2 million renovation of the park in 1934. Today the Sheep Meadow is used exclusively for sunbathing, socializing and Frisbee. Dogs and ball games are prohibited (for obvious reasons).
Next: Strawberry Fields