Crotona Park

Crotona Nature Center

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This nature center is situated in Crotona Park on the eastern side of Indian Lake. The lake’s name originated in the stories of local children of the 19th century, whose imaginative tales depicted Native Americans meeting here in lakeside conferences. The park name springs from Hellenistic mythology, however, rather than from local folklore. “Crotona” honors the former Greek colony in Italy that was famed for its prominence in the ancient Olympic games.

The City acquired the property that now comprises Crotona Park from Andrew Bathgate as part of the consolidation of the Bronx parks system in 1888. In 1914, designers fortified Indian Lake with concrete edges to improve its use for ice-skating and erected a wooden warming-hut on the edge of the lake. During the 1930s, however, the hut was replaced with the current concrete structure that houses the Nature Center. Open only occasionally, this building housed a row and paddle boat concessionaire.

On May 17, 2001 the Crotona Park Nature Center opened for full-time use. Children from one of the visiting summer camps recently painted two murals, a project commissioned by the City Parks Foundation. The murals feature several aspects of the surrounding Crotona community, including butterflies, swimming girls, the park ranger from the nature center, a centipede, an apple tree, a squirrel, and a red-tailed hawk.

The Nature Center sponsors and creates activities that give children a feeling of connection with the outdoors. Nature walks, fish and bird identification, and summer camps allow young visitors to enjoy the landscape in an immediate physical way, while developing an appreciation and respect for natural life. Camps and schools run programs in conjunction with the center, keeping the schedule full and the facility a vital addition to Crotona Park.

Directions to Crotona Park

Know Before You Go

Nature CentersCrotona Park Nature Center

The Crotona Park Nature Center is currently closed for reconstruction, with no public access. Please check our Capital Project Tracker for the latest updates on this project.

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