Once most of the original property that would become New York’s Central Park had been acquired, the Central Park Commission called for a public design competition. A small classified advertisement was placed in The New York Times of October 30, 1857 and the race was on! The deadline (extended once) was April 1, 1858; the winning design would be announced very soon thereafter.
33 designs were submitted, numbered in the order they were received. Number 33—the very last design plan submitted—was that of Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The pair delivered their plan to the Arsenal building so late on March 31, mere hours before the deadline, that they had to leave them with the janitor.
Imagine if there had been a horse carriage strike or the janitor had had a childcare emergency and had to lock up early…
Incredibly, when the winner was announced, it was “Plan Number 33” that would become the blueprint for the city’s, and the nation’s, quintessential public park!