Buildings of The Central Park Zoo
The Central Park Zoo of 1934 was built in 1934 by the WPA. ( Works Progress Administration) It took 9 months to build and a total of nine buildings. The buildings had red brick with white trim.The buildings had animal freizes which depicted which animals were inside. It also had elaborate chimneys and sculputures on top to show visitors what animals were inside. It has been noted that the monkey house cost $40,406 dollars wo build and the eleplant house $45,592. Many parts of the 1934 remain in the zoo of today. Take a close look and find the friezes, chimneys, paving stones old is still put to good use.

The Cental Park Zoo of 1988 took 4 years to build. The old zoo was torn down and was re-built to look like the 1934 zoo using red brickwork and white trim. The new zoo buildings did not house animals in cages but were used to anchor natural exhibits for polar bears, sea lions, snow leopards and snow monkeys. The natural enclosures also contain water, rocks, vegetation and places in the sun and shade where they can rest and hide.

Two of the original 1934 buildings remain. The bird house, which is now the gift shop. The monkey house which is now Zoo School.

Many items from the 1934 zoo also remain in the new zoo. These include concrete eagles, the statue of Honey Bear, and the Dancing Goat. If you look closely you will see the ornate chimneys and sculptures on top of the buildings.

Check out the link to The 1934 Zoo to see the original drawings.

Zoo School

Zoo School, which was the original monkey house. It is one of the two original buildings in the Central Park Zoo. On top of the door you can note Monkey reliefs carved in the white trim. This showed visitors what animals were inside.


Arsenal. The Arsenal now contains the offices of the Park Dept. Originally, it was the location of the Menagerie in the 1860's. The Arsenal was the original building of the Menagerie which housed many animals in the basement. The back of this building faces the park on which many of the first exhibts were housed.

Gift Shop

Top of gift shop, which was the bird house. Note the friezes that remain. It is one of the two original buildings from 1934.

Original Chimney

Original chimney still seen on many of the buildings. They were saved from the Zoo of 1934.


Cafe, with chimney on top. Made to look like the old buildings from 1934.

Children's Zoo Gate

Children's Zoo gate.The first of two Children's Zoos was built in 1961 and the gates were sculptured by Paul Manship. The gate is decorated with dancing goats, birds and boys playing bagpipes. The gates remain today when the new Children's Zoo opened in 1997.

Delacourt Clock

Delacort Clock. Installed in the 1960's. The monkeys on top chime the hours while the animals holding instruments run around the base of the clock. It plays seasonal favorites as well as well known children's songs.

Tropic Zone

Entrance to the Tropic Zone. Entrance to the Tropic Zone. This space was originally part of the elephant exhibit in 1934. This building was new in 1988. The red brick and the white trim reminds visitors of the zoo of 1934. The building contains three exhibits on the outside. They are used for small primates or birds. It allows visitors to see tropic animals without going inside the tropic building.

 Central Park Zoo Gift Shop

Central Park Zoo Gift Shop. One of the two original buildings. Originally it was the Bird House and was constructed in 1934. The friezes along the outside of the building show taht birds were inside. The paving stones shown here were from the original walkway from the 1934 zoo.

Snow Monkey Pathway

The outside pathway along side of the Snow Monkey exhibit. The paving stones are original to the zoo of 1934. On the right side of this parth is the outdoor enclosure for the snow monkeys. It contains rocks. water falls and places to run, climb and hide.

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Sea Lion Pool with the rear view of the Arsenal in the Eight concrets eagles surround the enclosure. The zoo of 1934 the sea lions rested on concrets platforms. Here they can climb on the rocks and sleep on them as well. Visitors can see both above and below the water.

Pictures by Linda Hanhilammi. and Joan Scheier.

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Joan is available for book talks with slides, for both the Central Park Zoo and The New York City Zoos and Aquarium books.

Please contact her through e-mail or

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Web site created by Paul McCubbin from a design by Haran