The Parks Department is sending the concrete animals children have been playing on for decades into retirement.
Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver last week announced plans for the creation of the very first “NYC Parks Home for Retired Playground Animals.”
The new grove, located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, will be a contemplative space where New Yorkers can visit these concrete creatures to enjoy a moment of nostalgia and salute some of the city’s hardest working public servants.
“After decades of service to New York City, and with perfect attendance records across the board, it’s time for these Parkies to hang up their hats and enjoy a life of leisure,” said Silver. “Instead of moving down south to Florida, they will get their place in the sun in Flushing.”
Five animals – two dolphins, one aardvark, one camel, and one frog who until now were living out their last years in storage – will be the first residents in the new space, which is set to open this fall.
The animals will remain in their current state, without repainting or touchups. The space will include new plantings, as well as benches. New pathways will allow parkgoers to easily access the area from three separate points.
Most of the concrete animals in city parks were added in the 1980s and 90s under former Commissioner Henry Stern, who tasked Parks designers to incorporate animal art into every new playground project.
While some features were designed by staff in-house, most (like the frog, which can be found in many New York City playgrounds) were prefabricated by manufacturers.
As these playgrounds are renovated, the objects are often removed to make way for new play features and to add more accessible play space.
The concrete animals were discarded when they reached the end of their service, but starting now these worn and much-loved figures will make Flushing Meadows their home.