New York's Central Park president tours Birkenhead Park

Doug Blonsky, president and chief executive of New York's Central Park, has toured Birkenhead Park during a visit it is hoped will improve links between the iconic public spaces.

Central Park was designed by American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmstead following a visit to Birkenhead in 1850.

Blonsky said it was "a big deal" for him to visit the park. He added: "We look forward to developing an exciting and productive exchange programme between Birkenhead Park and Central Park, New York, which will bring together park staff and volunteers and reinforce the community importance of two of the world's most important parks."

Wirral Councillor Chris Meaden, cabinet member for culture, tourism and leisure, said: "The ties between our two parks are well known, and we face similar challenges in protecting and conserving our green spaces in the modern world."

Birkenhead Park was opened on Easter Monday 5 April 1847 by Lord Morpeth and is regarded by some historians as the world's first public park, and was also one of the UK's first municipal green spaces.

Philips Park in Manchester opened a year earlier but was funded by public subscription.

Birkenhead's landscaping and construction costs, estimated at more than £103,000, were met entirely by public funds and it was designed solely for public use.

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