The gas stations along the city's parkways were designed in the 1930s to accommodate drivers without exiting the roadway. Seven filling stations are operated as park concessions along the Grand Central Parkway, Shore Road/Belt Parkway, and the Major Deegan Expressway. They range in style from the pristine, modernist version to more rustic architecture not unlike the structures in many of our national parks.
In 1869 goat carriage rides were introduced into Central Park to cater to children, and were often "laden with prattling freight." For years they were a popular feature on the Mall.
Golf Courses and Driving Ranges
The city’s municipal golf course provide an affordable option for middle-class golfing enthusiasts, and those managed by Parks and its concessionaires measure up with regional private and public offerings, at competitive prices.
By the time Van Cortlandt Golf Course opened on July 6, 1895—the first municipal course in the United States—the popularity of the sport had been growing steadily for several decades. Golf took off in the 1910s and 1920s, and by the 1940s and 1950s golf courses were as much a part of the park going experience as swimming pools and baseball diamonds. New York City parks now feature over 1300 acres of links in four boroughs. As of 2009 there were 13 golf courses in the city’s parks, as well as “Pitch and Putt” driving ranges at Randalls Island, Turtle Cove in Pelham Bay Park and Alley Pond Park.
The Forest Park Golf Course opened in 1902, with this rural-looking outpost as its temporary clubhouse. An expanded golf course opened in 1905, and a new Dutch-Revival clubhouse, designed by the firm of Helmle, Huberty and Hudswell (which also designed the elegant Prospect Park Boathouse), opened in 1907. Today that clubhouse serves as the administrative offices of Forest Park (known as "Oak Ridge"), with community rooms and space for the Queens Council on the Arts.
Looking a bit like Tara in Gone With The Wind, the Greek Revival-style Split Rock Golf Club House opened for business on May 7, 1936. Located in the northeast Bronx, a stone's throw from the historic Bartow-Pell Mansion, Split Rock was a new 18-hole course, measuring 6,617 yards, with a par of 71. The golfhouse and the Pelham Bay course nearby were rebuilt with labor funded by the Federal Civil Works Administration, Temporary Emergency Relief Act, and Works Progress Administration.
In 1938 the Parks Department established a New York City Amateur Golf Championship, which was conducted in several rounds on the 10 municipal golf courses that existed at that time (there are now 13, soon to be 14). A solid silver trophy cup, twenty inches in height, was inscribed each year with the winner's name. The tournament and trophy were named for City Council President Newbold Morris (later Commissioner of Parks from 1960-65); a six-inch replica of the larger trophy was presented to each annual winner.
A gondola, given in 1862, was an early park concession, enhancing the already romantic atmosphere of the lake in Central Park. Later in the early 1930s hundreds flocked to the Parks Department's Venetian Carnival Night.
In 1986, sponsored by Lucy G. Moses, the gondola tradition was reintroduced into Central Park. An authentic craft dubbed "The Bride of Venice" was procured, and romantics who wish to splurge (and impress a date) can again take a moonlight-serenaded excursion.
Mrs. Ethan Allen, a New Yorker of Venetian descent, recruited two champion gondoliers from Venice to train the park oarsmen. The Loeb Boathouse still features gondola rides (by reservation only) for $30 a half-hour.
Grass, Hay and Manure Sales
Annual Reports show that in the early years of the Parks Department, grass, hay, and manure sales figured in to the agency's receipts, an early example of "sustainability."
Over the years, holiday markets have sprung up in Bryant Park, Columbus Circle, and most notably at Union Square, where artisans from around the country sell one-of-a-kind holiday gifts. Started in 1996, Union Square's market now features over 200 booths. Urban Space Management, which runs the Union Square and Columbus Circle markets, manages retail projects in Great Britain and the United States. ID&A runs the market at Bryant Park. The holiday markets appear around Thanksgiving and continue until Christmas Day.
The horse carriages in Central Park run year round on a short path through the southeast portion of the park. The carriages were licensed by the police department until 1965 when the License Commissioner (now Department of Consumer Affairs) took over the licensing of the mode of transport.