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On the trail: Christo's "Gates" is NYC's biggest art project

View the gallery of 28 additional photos

“The Gates” in New York City's Central Park features 7,500 frames with billowing saffron fabric, creates what artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude call a “visual golden river” along 23 miles of trails.

Photo of Christo's "Gates" in New Youk City
Photo by Barbara and Hank Schaller

By Jeff Olson, R.A.

In a monumental work of public art, the artists Christo and Jean-Claude have installed thousands of steel and fabric gates along miles of pathways in New York's Central Park.

I don't know what Frederick Law Olmsted would have thought of this, and I'm not even sure what I think of it, but the saffron orange landscape sculpture is spectacular.

Enormous crowds filled the park this weekend, and it was inspiring to see tens of thousands of people outdoors on a winter day— all inspired by public art.

Photo of Christo's "Gates" in New Youk City
Photo by Jeff Olson, R.A., Alta Planning

The steel and fabric gates are individually simple but collectively complex. Sun, wind, and people created a constantly changing sequence of views.

People walked, biked, skated, and jogged. They pushed strollers, used wheelchairs, and rode horses and carriages, pedal taxis, and trolley buses. They didn't drive because the city no longer allows cars on most roads in the park.

Even a snowstorm on Monday added to the imagery, creating an otherworldly early morning scene of orange, gray and white. It seemed as if for a brief moment, everybody was an amateur photographer.

Photo of Christo's "Gates" in New Youk City
Photo by Barbara and Hank Schaller

The Gates was only in Central Park for two short weeks in February, 2005, but this will be a lasting example of the role that public parks, public trails, and public art can play in making people healthy and happy.

Visit the official website of Christo and Jeanne Claude: http://christojeanneclaude.net/tg.html

View the gallery of 28 additional photos

Photo of Christo's "Gates" in New Youk City
Photo by Barbara and Hank Schaller

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