17 years ago on February 12th, 2005
"The Gates" open in Central Park
Opening day was celebrated with a ceremony throughout the day where the vinyl fabric for each of the 7,503 gates was individually unfurled. The 23-mile-long art installation was only displayed for 16 days, but became one of New York City's most memorable public art installations. Outdoor artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude self-financed the project at an estimated cost of $21 million, which included costs incurred over a 26-year planning process and a $3 million donation to the Central Park Conservancy.
The gates were 12 feet tall and constructed in various widths to match Central Park's walking paths, from the narrowest at 5 feet 6 inches to the widest at 18 feet. The gates sat on large bases weighing from 615 to 837 pounds that were not anchored into the ground — an agreement with the city required that no modification be made to the park, and concerns over damage to the park had led three prior mayoral administrations to reject the proposal. After their two-week display, the gates were removed and recycled, with some pieces of the saffron material becoming souvenirs included in a later book.