The evolution of the Central Park Commission from a purely park-planning body into a comprehensive city-planning body began with a baby step. Andrew H. Green, who headed the commission, was concerned that the approaches to the park, especially from the north, were inadequate. He asked the state legislature to grant the commission the power to widen and improve Seventh Avenue from the top of Central Park to the Harlem River. This authority was given in 1859 and acted on beginning in 1864.
This drawing shows one of the three designs the commission considered for the project. The widened avenue is 150 feet across, a dimension set by the empowering legislation. Of this, the carriageway is 80 feet wide, the sidewalks are each 20 feet wide, and the so-called courtyards are each 15 feet wide. MM