Central Park’s iconic Great Lawn will be closed to the public until spring 2024 after the grass was turned up by a music festival.
On September 23, huge crowds descended on the Manhattan hotspot for the Global Citizen Festival, quickly making the space more reminiscent of the swampy chaos that ruined this year’s Burning Man festival.
About a third of the 40-acre green space was destroyed by a “combination of heavy rain, foot traffic and machinery used for staging,” New York City Council Member Gail Brewer wrote in a letter to Mayor Eric Adams.
Brewer urged Adams to move the event to another location in the future, with the Great Lawn – one of the most popular summer spots in the Big Apple – now closed until April next year at the earliest.
New Yorkers will have to wait until April 2024 at the earliest to use Central Park’s Great Lawn, after about a third of the space was ‘completely destroyed’
The Great Lawn is usually one of the most popular places in Manhattan for Big Apple residents to enjoy the sun in the summer months
Thousands came to the Great Lawn for the Global Citizen Festival on September 23, churning the Central Park lawn as they enjoyed the Red Hot Chili Peppers
The Central Park Conservancy, which made the decision to close the space, said the lawn was destroyed by “saturated conditions,” which developed after major storms caused by the remnants of Tropical Depression Ophelia.
The environmental charity described around a third of the Great Lawn as ‘completely destroyed’, with images of the scene showing it being consumed by mud.
While crews are now “working to restore the lawn,” the group said they don’t hope to open the space until next spring due to the damage.
“The Central Park Conservancy is very disappointed that the iconic Great Lawn is now closed and will no longer be available to New Yorkers this fall,” a spokesperson for the Central Park Conservancy added.
“While we share New Yorkers’ frustration, we have had a positive relationship with the producers of the Global Citizen Festival and are confident that any damage will be resolved quickly,” a spokesperson for the NYC Parks Department added .
The Parks Department added that it normally only cancels an event in the event of thunder and lightning, neither of which were present despite the day’s wet and wild weather.
The annual event was also headlined by Lauryn Hill, who attracted thousands of people to Central Park last month despite the wet and wild weather
Festival-goers saw their day in Manhattan marred by the remnants of Tropical Depression Ophelia
Event organizers defended the event in a storm, saying it had been determined before the start of the festival that this year’s event would ‘have to go ahead in the rain’.
Clean-up crews hope to have the space operational again by April, with the Great Lawn already undergoing routine maintenance during the winter months each year
While many New Yorkers may be disappointed to lose the location for several months, officials have noted that the space is generally closed during the winter for routine maintenance.
A city official told NBC New York that event organizers followed all stage permitting protocols and will be responsible for the costs associated with returning the Great Lawn to its former glory.
Global Citizen hosts this free event every year, with headliners Lauryn Hill and the Red Hot Chili Peppers attracting thousands of attendees this year.
Global Citizen organizers also defended their decision to hold the event despite New York being swamped by storms at the time, saying in a statement that they have been working with a number of agencies on potential risks.
They said it had been decided before the start of the festival that this year’s event would ‘go ahead in the rain’.
NYC Councilwoman Gail Brewer has urged Mayor Eric Adams to move the annual event to a stadium, adding that she has ‘never been a fan’ of the Central Park festival
Organizers said Global Citizen acknowledged that the grass needed to be replaced before the event took place, and that it “reaffirmed” that it would pay the costs before and after the event.
Although the event has raised costs every year since its inception in 2012, Brewer denounced the festival in her letter to Mayor Adams, suggesting it would be better suited for “an arena or stadium.”
She said she has “never been a fan” of the festival, adding, “40 acres of public green space will not be available to New Yorkers until April 2024 or later, all because of a one-day event.”
“I urge you to host the Global Citizen Festival in a location other than Central Park, such as an arena or stadium.”