Press Releases

Thursday, May 27, 2021
No. 45


At NYC Parks, our civil servants take many forms: not only park workers, but also the beloved concrete animals children have been playing on for decades. Now, we want to take some of our hardest-working employees and send them off into retirement in style.

NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP, today announced plans for the creation of the very first “NYC Parks Home for Retired Playground Animals.” The new grove, located in Queens’ Flushing Meadows Corona Park, will be a contemplative space where New Yorkers can visit these concrete creatures to enjoy a moment of nostalgia and salute some of NYC’s hardest working public servants.

“After decades of service to New York City, and with perfect attendance records across the board, it's time for these Parkies to hang up their hats and enjoy a life of leisure," said Commissioner Silver. "Instead of moving down south to Florida, they will get their place in the sun in Flushing -- at the new Home for Retired Playground Animals in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Come stop by and say hello to an old friend!"

Five animals – two dolphins, one aardvark, one camel, and one frog who until now were living out their last years in storage -- will be the first residents in the new retirement home, which is set to open this fall. The animals will remain in their current state, without repainting or touchups. The space will include new plantings, as well as benches, for the enjoyment of visitors. New pathways will allow parkgoers to easily access the area from three separate points.

Most of the concrete animals you see in NYC Parks today were added in the 1980s and 90s under former Commissioner Henry Stern, who tasked Parks designers to incorporate animal art into every new playground project. While some features were designed by staff in-house, most (like the frog, which can be found in many New York City playgrounds) were prefabricated by manufacturers. As these playgrounds are renovated, the objects are often removed (with the blessing of the community members who use the park) to make way for new play features and to add more accessible play space. The concrete animals were discarded when they reached the end of their service, but starting now these worn and much-loved figures will make FMCP their home.

The project design is currently under community review.

Under the leadership of Commissioner Silver, since 2014 NYC Parks has completed more than 800 capital projects across the five boroughs, advancing the City’s mission to build a more equitable park system for present and future generations. Under this administration, the agency has brought our park system into the 21st century, with guidelines focused on resiliency and access and leading with a data-driven approach to increasing park equity. Parks has also improved its capital process in order to take on more projects and complete them faster. Through these strategies, the agency has reimagined how we invest in parks across the city, including those in communities with the greatest need for open-space improvements that had not seen investment in decades. Parks’ 10-year capital budget is $5.2 billion—the completed projects over the past seven years represents a $1.96 billion investment.

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