Friday, March 23, 2012

Vintage Central Park Childrens Zoo

Former Central Park Childrens Zoo Director Herb Clement was a huge circus fan and a member of the Felix Adler Tent who authored a number of books.

The Great Circus Parade: Herbert Clement ...

New York Magazine - 1 Oct 1990 - Google Books Result

A Children's Zoo was established at Central Park in 1961, funded in large part by Senator Herbert H. Lehman and his wife Edith Lehman, who in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary, donated $500,000 towards the cost of the zoo. The zoo featured llamas, pigs, penguins, cows, a monkey, and white mice; a petting area with ducks, rabbits, and chickens; a Noah's Ark feature; and a medieval castle feature. The zoo was renovated in the 1990s, reopening in 1997 with a different layout and objective, but not before dueling camps of preservationists “locked horns” on the issue of whether to preserve the distinctive 1960s pop architecture or switch to a design more in keeping with Olmsted and Vaux's original view of the park.


The Olmsted and Vaux preservationists persevered in the end, and the new Children's Zoo became more integrated into the park's design. Several fanciful features were given to the Museum of the City of New York, and Wilhelmina the whale was salvaged as part of a public art project by the Rockaway Artists Alliance in Queens. Another controversy ensued when philanthropists Edith and Henry Everett withdrew a $3 million gift after the Art Commission refused to approve a design that omitted the original Lehman name on the ornamental Manship Gates. The story had a twist when the Tisch family, a rival of the Everetts, stepped in and raised their $3 million gift to $4.5 million. Quennell Rothschild & Partners designed the new children's zoo, with naturalistic features and notably a massive net covering the entire zoo, which allows birds to fly freely. The firm also provided many interactive features in the redesign, while preserving Paul Manship's gates.

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