New York sues for return of Central Park drawings

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Central Park is almost synonymous with New York. But historians have long wondered whether the city's signature park was originally conceived the way it looks today. Were the ornate colorful tiles underneath the Bethesda Terrace a vision of the original designers? What about elegant black lamps that dot the park?

Now historians might finally have some clues about the park's design.

Illustrations for features of Central Park and other public places in New York have resurfaced, and the city has gone to court to get them back. Real estate broker Sam Buckley said his father found the drawings, by Jacob Wrey Mould, in a Manhattan trash bin sometime before 1960, according to court documents.

Though Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted designed Central Park, Mould assisted with several noteworthy landmarks of the public space, such as Bethesda Terrace and Belvedere Castle.

The 127 drawings, which date from 1860 to 1885, are stamped "Department of Public Parks." The city claims it never authorized the destruction or abandonment of the drawings and believes they were "lost or erroneously discarded."

The city learned about the drawings after Buckley placed 86 of them for sale with Christie's auction house. He kept the remaining 41. The city asked the court to award $1 million in damages or compel Buckley to hand over the illustrations....

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