Philanthropist Joshua Rechnitz’s $40 million donation for the design & construction of a 115,000-square-foot year-round, multi-use recreation facility near Brooklyn Bridge Park’s Pier 5 has been trumped. In April, when the Manhattan-based Founder & Chairman of the non-profit New York City Fieldhouse announced the gift, it was deemed the largest donation ever for a New York City public park.
Now, make that the second largest. The New York Times reports that Tuesday, hedge fund billionaire John A. Paulson and his Paulson Family Foundation have donated $100 million to the Central Park Conservancy, more than doubling Rechnitz’s consistently controversial Fieldhouse gift.
Paulson, a lifelong New Yorker, said that as an infant he was pushed around in a baby carriage in Central Park and that he remembers going to Bethesda Fountain as a teenager and seeing it covered in graffiti, with no water flowing. The park’s current endowment stands at $144 million. Half of Mr. Paulson’s gift will go to the endowment, while the other half will be used for capital improvements.
“Walking through the park in different seasons, it kept coming back that in my mind Central Park is the most deserving of all of New York’s cultural institutions,” he said at a news conference. “And I wanted the amount to make a difference. The park is very large, and its endowment is relatively small.”
Perhaps 50 years from now, a prominent Brooklynite will recall being strolled around Brooklyn Bridge Park as an infant and pony up $100M for its upkeep. Imagine how magnificent it will be by then. (Photo: Claude Scales)