Snack Bars/Food Stands
Food stands, snack bars and food carts have graced city parks from nearly the beginning, sustaining hungry and thirsty parkgoers. Hot dogs, for example, are a big business in New York. The most valuable site is in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Central Park, where a license goes for over $250,000 a year. In 1969 the Parks Department developed its own standards for food carts including ones like hamburgers must be all beef, with "no binders, fillers, extenders, additives or preservatives," not exceeding 30 percent fat, with no added moisture (although they could be fresh or frozen). Hot dogs—all beef only—could be as much as 30 perfect fat, although 25 percent was "preferred." Elsewhere, sandwiches must have at least two ounces of meat or cheese, soft drinks must be properly syruped and ice cream was to be stored at a temperature of not more than ten degrees below zero.
In October 1998 two new park refreshment kiosks officially opened at newly renovated Merchant's Gate at the southwest corner of Central Park. Guidelines stipulated that the concessionaire utilize an existing design of lacy cast-iron, fabricated in Italy, and inspired by 19th-century park structures, such as the Ladies Pavilion on the Lake's western edge. Improvements to Columbus Circle and Merchant's Gate, coupled with the activity of the concessions, has made this part of the park a more hospitable place, a point of destination for tourists and locals alike
The Parks Department took over management of the municipal beaches, including famed Coney Island, in 1938. The agency endeavored to shutter many of the honky-tonk establishments that operated along the boardwalk, and even underneath. As part of this effort, in-house Parks designers created new standardized refreshment stands.
Once the location of the Trinity Church uptown cemetery until 1896, and today the site of a swing-set in the expanded playground adjacent to Carmine Street Pool, this location for a lunch stand drew upon the predominantly youthful patrons of the park, the pool, and the Hudson Park library branch.
Concession cart designs have ranged in style from the quaint and picturesque (literally) to functionalist moderne. The cart shown above was the handiwork of Allan Saalburg (1899–1987) a painter and illustrator who first made his mark during the Depression. His designs for the vendor wagon at the Zoo so delighted Parks officials that he was subsequently engaged to oversee muralists working in parks, and he himself created the murals in the Arsenal lobby, and those no longer extant at Tavern on the Green.
In 2009, both of New York City's storied Major League Baseball franchises opened new multi-million dollar stadia on parkland. In Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens, the New York Mets built Citi Field, located on the north end of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park at the edge of Flushing Bay. Citi Field decreased seating from over 50,000 to 41,800 and provides new fan-friendly features such as wider concourses and unobstructed concourse views around the stadium. The design of Citi Field hearkens back to the architecture of Ebbets Field, where the Brooklyn Dodgers played until 1957. New Yankee Stadium is an updated, $1.3 billion version of Old Yankee Stadium, with added luxury amenities and highly obstructed bleacher views in Sections 201 and 239. New Yankee Stadium also restored the famous frieze motif around the upper level overhang that rings the stadium.
MCU Parl (formerly KeySpan Park), on Surf Avenue between West 16th and 19th Streets, opened in June 2001 as the home field of the Brooklyn Cyclones, Brooklyn's first professional baseball team since 1957. The Keyspan Corporation was one of the park's major sponsors, and the City contributed $39 million to the construction of the 6,500 seat stadium. Designed by Jack Gordon to recreate the intimacy of Ebbets Field, home of the former Brooklyn Dodgers, the festive neon motifs in MCU Park also evoke memories of old Coney Island and the world-famous beach, boardwalk and Cyclone roller coaster (the team's namesake) are all visible over the outfield fence. On June 25, 2001, the Class A Cyclones, minor league affiliate of the New York Mets, played the first game at MCU Park. In their first season, the Cyclones compiled a record of 51 wins and 23 losses, and won the New York-Penn League Championship, giving Brooklyn fans another team to root for after 44 years.
The spectacle of a nighttime ball game is captured in this striking bird's-eye view of the newly opened Shea Stadium. In 1964 the fledgling Mets compiled a record of 53 wins and 109 losses, and wound up in 10th place in the National League.
Having played their first two seasons at the Polo Grounds in Manhattan, the revived New York Metropolitans (the first version played from 1883-1887), moved into its new residence on the eve of the New York World's Fair opening across the street. The new stadium boasted 55,000 seats all with unobstructed views, and state of the art scoreboard and restaurant facilities. Colorful manager Casey Stengel kept reporters entertained, even as the lowly Mets routinely finished in last place during their early years. Triumph would finally be theirs when they took the World Series in 1969, and again in 1986.
Storied Yankee Stadium, also known as "The House that Ruth Built," opened on April 18, 1923. In 1971 the City acquired and renovated the stadium. And in the following year it was leased for thirty years to the New York Yankees, Inc. (with two five-year renewable options.)
Van Cortlandt Park's Riverdale Equestrian Center and Queens' Cedar Lane Stables are two of the most notable stable concessions in the park system. Riverdale Equestrian Center is designed for professionals and amateur riders, and participants from the Bronx and beyond are able to ride and take lessons. The center also features an indoor arena for year-round riding. Advanced riders train at Van Cortlandt Park for international "dressage" competitions and some of the riders (and the horses) are Olympians. Parks took jurisdiction over Cedar Lane Stables in 1938. Cedar Lane Stables is now home to more than 40 horses and contains grazing lands and room for horse trailers. A barn remains on the site from its previous days as a farm.
The Federation of Black Cowboys has used Cedar Lane Stables in Queens since 1998. The group was formed in 1994 to share the legacy of the Black West, when African-Americans played an important, yet often forgotten, role in the settling of the American frontier during which many African Americans made the journey west after escaping slavery or after emancipation. The Federation holds clinics designed to teach children about riding horses and their proper care. The Federation also runs a program for disabled children, teaching them the workings and operations of a horse farm.
Since 1973 the TKTS booth at the north end of Duffy Square, a project of the theater Development Fund, has provided a low-cost option for bargain hunters seeking reduced-price theater Broadway show theater tickets.
In 2000 the Van Alen Institute and Theater Development Fund sponsored an architectural competition re-envisioning the TKTS operation. This open competition attracted 683 entries from 31 countries. The goal was to select a design that could accommodate staff, users, and the growing number of pedestrians sharing this tight space, as well as serve as an emblem of this dynamic public space. The winning entrant, by John Choi and Tai Rophia of Sydney, Australia included a large sloping canopy that doubled as a performance bleacher. This concept was later adapted into the final design by William Fellows, architect, and the reconfigured plaza and ticket sales building was completed in 2008.
The new TKTS booth, serving as a back backdrop to the Father Duffy Statue, features a fiberglass shell and a 27-step red glass staircase on which thousands of visitors congregate daily –New York’s answer to Rome’s Spanish Steps.