Photo: Central Park Conservancy
The Central Park Conservancy officially reopened the Dairy Visitor Center & Gift Shop, located in the heart of Central Park’s Children’s District, after a year-long restoration project. The work included repairs to the historic structure’s roof and windows, the addition of an accessible entrance, installation of a more energy efficient climate-controlled system, and more so that a new generation of Park visitors can enjoy this refuge.
Created before modern-day playgrounds existed and the only spot in the Park designed specifically for young visitors, the Children’s District is now also home to Heckscher Playground and Ballfields, Chess & Checkers House, and the Carousel.
“The Conservancy is proud of its work to restore and increase access to this welcoming and historic section of the Children’s District,” said Elizabeth W. Smith, President & CEO of the Central Park Conservancy. “The Dairy, with its open-air loggia, is a wonderful place to start your Central Park exploration and learn more about the Park’s history.”
Originally intended as a place where children and their caregivers could get snacks and fresh milk, the Dairy structure was designed by Central Park co-architect Calvert Vaux and built to resemble a Victorian country cottage. In the mid-20th century, the historic building deteriorated after years of neglect and was closed to the public. In the 1980s, as one of the organization’s first restoration projects, the Conservancy restored the building’s colorful loggia, which had been removed, and reopened it as a visitor center and gift shop.
In September 2020, the Conservancy began its most recent work to restore to the Dairy, which included:
- restoring the historic loggia (open-air porch);
- constructing an accessibility ramp from the East Drive;
- repairing, cleaning, and repointing the exterior masonry;
- replacing windows and doors;
- installing a new energy-efficient climate control system;
- and reconfiguring staff and support space to provide an accessible staff restroom.
To learn more about the Conservancy’s restoration of the Dairy, visit our restoration page.
ABOUT THE CENTRAL PARK CONSERVANCY
The Central Park Conservancy is a private, not-for-profit organization that manages Central Park and is responsible for raising the Park’s annual operating budget. The Conservancy’s staff of more than 300 is responsible for all aspects of the Park’s stewardship, from day-to-day maintenance and operations to continued restoration and rebuilding projects. Additionally, the Conservancy operates the Park’s visitor centers, provides public programs, and serves as a resource for other NYC parks and for public-private partnerships around the world. For more information, please visit centralparknyc.org.