There are presently 16 marinas in the city's parks. Thirteen are concessioned, while three are operated by Parks & Recreation. The far-flung locations include the World's Fair Marina at Flushing Bay, the 79th Street Boat Basin in Riverside Park, Paedergat Basin in Brooklyn, and Lemon Creek on Staten Island, Soundview in the Bronx, and Dyckman Street and Sherman Creek in northern Manhattan. This recreational resource evokes New York's waterfront origins.
In the late 1860s Central Park’s designers, Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted planned a healthful refreshment stand of light snacks and fresh milk catering to children at the Victorian cottage at the park’s south end, known as the Dairy (though by the time it opened in 1871 it was more a standard restaurant.) Later, the Parks Department experimented with milk booths in the early part of the 20th century as a way to discourage the selling of candy and soda. A notable experiment was implemented at Heckscher Playground in Central Park, where over 50,000 glasses were sold in 1930. Though not a concession, Mrs. Hearst’s free milk bar, located on the southwest perimeter of Central Park in the early 1930s, was part of a health initiative to distribute milk to those who could not afford it.
One of the most extravagant concessions ever to have existed in the parks system was the Mineral Springs Pavilion operated by Prussian immigrant Carl H. Schultz (1827–1877). Designed by Calvert Vaux, the structure was erected in 1867, and was composed of ornate wooden pillars and tracery, complex painted finishes, and an octagonal bar. Schultz, who ran a profitable mineral water company, petitioned the park board to erect the springs, noting that: "Nature has treasured up in different parts of the globe healing springs, the great power of which, as curative agencies upon the human system, has been acknowledged..." The spa was particularly popular with well-to-do German Jewish immigrants. Destroyed in 1960, the Mineral Springs was soon replaced by a nondescript brick structure north of Sheep Meadow, which retains the name of the original.
Though the magazine covers may have become more provocative over time, those who frequent Columbus Circle will recognize the compact kiosk that has graced the subway entrance at the southwest corner of the park for more than 60 years.
The newsstand near Prospect Park at an IRT subway entrance typifies the compact, streamlined model concession developed by the Parks Department in-house design team in the 1930s.
In 1934, the Parks Department under its new Commissioner, Robert Moses, sought to regulate concessions like this newsstand. The agency continued to place commercial amenities in busy pedestrian crossroads like this one, but the in-house design team developed more compact, clean and uniform vendor designs.
Beginning in the 1870s, pony carriage rides were a popular amusement in Central Park. In 1956, with a gift from the Altman Foundation, a new pony track was introduced at the south entrance of the zoo. In the late 1980s, the reconstruction of the zoo and the adjacent grounds to better conform to the Olmstedian landscape, coupled with a slim profit margin, brought about the pony track's demise.
There are currently eight ice skating rinks in New York City's parks. The earliest skating rink in the city was the New York City Building in Queens's Flushing Meadows Corona Park, originally constructed for the 1939-40 World's Fair. The building became a major World's Fair site again during the 1964-65 event when Olympic figure skating champion Dick Button organized “Ice–Travaganza” performances within the facility. After the Fair ended, the Flushing Meadows Corona Park rink became the first year-round skating facility in the park system and operated until its close in 2008.
Once ice skating proved to be useful in attracting parkgoers to parks in the winter months, other rinks opened throughout City boroughs.
In Coney Island, Parks repurposed the former site of the privately owned Ravenhall Baths to open Abe Stark Rink in 1970. An outdoor rink in Staten Island, the War Memorial Rink in Clove Lakes Park, also opened that year.
Wollman Rink opened on December 21, 1950. Though skating had been a popular activity on the natural waters of the park since the late 1850s, the new facility was the first formal concession of this type in the park with a permanent home. Designed by Embury and Lucas, Architects, the amphitheater-like rink was funded in large part by a $600,000 gift from Kate Wollman, in memory of her parents and four brothers. In November 1986, the rink reopened after having been closed for extensive renovations by the City and real estate magnate Donald Trump, which improved the building, the cooling systems and perimeter landscaping.
During the 1960s, ski slopes were constructed in the southern section of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx, with powered rope tows, floodlights for night skiing and a snow-making system. Participants were able to rent skis, boots and poles. The ski area was able to accommodate up to 1,000 skiers.