10 Things You Didn't Know About Central Park

04/01/2015 10:24 am ET | Updated Jun 01, 2015

Things you do know about Central Park: you have to pour your wine into a Solo cup or the cops are totally going to bust you for drinking on Sheep Meadow. Things you don't know about Central Park: these 20 other cool, interesting, and/or weird things.

1. Yeah, there was a crocodile in one of those lakes
It's true, they even flew some gator wrestlers up from Florida to catch the guy. The croc was of the caiman variety, and park prognosticators assume someone smuggled it in and then set it free. There've also been sightings of coyotes and bears, which is really kind of insane.
Credit: Flickr/alexandre alacchi

2. Elmo was once arrested there for being a crazy, anti-Semitic jerk
It got a lot of attention but it's actually a pretty messed up, sad story.
Credit: Flickr/Tom

3. To build the park, they sent in enough earth to "raise the level of a football field to 80 stories"
Even though a super-tall football field in the middle of the city would be dope, they instead used the 2.5 million cubic yards of dirt and rocks to build the actual park -- almost none of the landscape, including the lakes, is natural.

4. Sheep Meadow was once, in fact, filled with sheep
Elizabeth Kaledin of the Central Park Conservancy tells us that "up until 1934 it was actually grazed by sheep! After their day of work the sheep went into a nearby 'sheepfold', which is now the famous Tavern on The Green restaurant."

5. Central Park was the first public landscaped park in all of the United States

6. Originally the park was planned for the East Side
It was going to be on the Jones Wood Estate, the 150 acres between 66th and 75th St and Third Ave and the East River, before some old-timey big wigs made a fuss and moved it to the center of the city. Which is a good thing -- East Side Park doesn't quite have the same ring.

7. There's a "secret" Christmas tree
Hidden in the wilds of the Ramble there's a Christmas tree where people go to hang mementos of pets who've passed. Apparently they store the ornaments every year and then bring them back out when it's time.
Credit: Flickr/Jonathan Hoffman

8. More than 20 million people came to see a neurotic polar bear
Over Gus the Polar bear's iconic life he became something of a mascot for neurotic New Yorkers everywhere, and millions and millions of people came to see him do his figure-eight pacing.
Credit: Flickr/Johnia!

9. Gus was also the first zoo animal in history to be treated with Prozac
Yeah, apparently they do that.

10. You can totally make a salad, for FREE, by just picking stuff up off the ground there
Okay, so it's technically illegal, but there's even a dude who will you teach you how to do it. Although there's also apparently a pretty delicious yet pretty poisonous apple for the picking, so umm, be careful-er than you normally would be when eating things off the ground.
Credit: Flickr/Howard Walfish

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