The first sketches and early project ideas for “The Gates” in New York’s Central Park were made in 1979. During the planning process in 1980, Christo described his ideas and sketches for the complete project which was initially intended for the last two weeks in October 1983 or 1984. Fourteen days later, the 43.4 km long artwork would be dismantled and the Park returned to its original state. However, the planning phase for this major project in the middle of New York dragged on over many years and only on 12 February 2005 was this land art installation, at a total length of 37 km, opened in the heart of New York. The 43 page contract between the city of New York and the artist couple Christo and Jeanne-Claude was signed in January 2003, and production of the 7,503 gates could begin. The costs for the artwork were financed entirely by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.
“The 7,500 Gates, each 4.87 m high and varying in width from 1.82 to 5.48 m will follow the edges of the walkways and are perpendicular to the selected 23 miles of footpaths in Central Park. Free hanging saffron-coloured fabric panels suspended from the horizontal top part of the gates will come down approximately 2.13 meters above the ground. The gates spaced at 3 to 4.5 meters intervals, allowing the synthetic woven panels to wave horizontally towards the next gate and be seen from far away through the leafless branches of the trees. This temporary work of art, “The Gates“, is scheduled for February 2005, to remain in place for 16 days, before the 7,500 gates are removed and the material recycled“ (press statement of the New York Mayor, Michael R. Bloomberg, 22 January 2003).
in: Anne L. Strauss, Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates, 1979–2005, Cologne 2005, page 38
192.366 km of saffron-coloured nylon thread was used to produce the fabric panels, woven into a total of 98,298 m² of fabric. A 7 x 7 cm piece of the original fabric from The Gates was added to the two project sketches, to demonstrate the haptic sense of the fabric panels.“ When the lustrous fabric lifts the Gates and delimits the space above the path, it accentuates the organic design which contrasts with the geometrical, rectangular forms of Manhattan and harmonises with the beauty of Central Park.” (Christo 1980, Marina Vaizey, Christo, Recklinghausen 1990).