A Little Context for the Taylor Swift Show in Central Park

Can She Top Garth Brooks' Crowd Counts, 22 Years Later?

So Taylor Swift’s going to play Central Park. That’s big. Huge. Even bigger than huge. She made the announcement on Wednesday (July 31), letting her fans know that she’d be performing a concert in New York City’s Central Park on August 22.

All that said, though, Swift’s got some pretty big shoes to fill.

According to the park’s official website, they have some mostly accurate figures for concert attendance and they are kind of mind blowing. If you take away the New York Philharmonic show in July of 1989, because it’s symphony orchestra music that has a whole different kind of fan base, that puts Garth Brooks in the lead.

Brooks played the first country show in the North Meadow of the park in August of 1997. The park site states that 750,000 people were there. That alone is pretty staggering. But in Brooks’ Anthology Part III book, he talks about that show, that crowd and that entire event like he’s still in awe. And his numbers are a lot higher than the park’s.

At 3:00 on the afternoon of the show, the book says that Parks Services had to open the overflow viewing areas. Two hours later, they had to shut down Fifth Avenue.

On the day of the show, Brooks tried to sleep late (and to keep his expectations low). But when he looked out of his hotel room window, and saw that there were already more than half a million people there, he said, “You don’t forget a moment like that. Ever.” When he took the stage that night, that number climbed even higher. “Estimates are between 900,000 and 1.2 million people,” Brooks said. “And it’s just people as far as you can see.

“I can’t explain what it’s like to see that many people in one area. It was beautiful.”

Other massive shows on the park’s top ten list include:

1990: Daryl Hall and John Oates, Edie Brickell, and The B-52s — 750,000 people

1981: Simon & Garfunkel — 500,000 people

1983: Diana Ross — 450,000-800,000 people

1980: Elton John — 400,000 people

1979: James Taylor — 250,000 people

1980: Pavarotti — 200,000 people

1967: Barbra Streisand — 135,000 people

1995: Pope Paul — 125,000 people

We’ll update this story the morning after Swift’s show to see where her crowd count lands.

Alison makes her living loving country music. She's based in Chicago, but she's always leaving her heart in Nashville.
@alisonbonaguro