830 Fifth Avenue, The Central Park Arsenal

Predating both the Upper East Side and Central Park itself, the Central Park Arsenal dates to 1847 and is the second oldest structure in Central Park after the Blockhouse Fort of 1814.  Designed by Martin E. Lawrence, the building is an early example in the United States of the Romantic Revival applied to a large public building; details are Classical, but the octagonal towers and battlements impart a Gothic air to the whole.

Formerly used as the Central Park Zoo, as space for the collections of the American Museum of Natural History (while the museum’s permanent building was under construction) and a weather bureau, the Arsenal originally held weapons for the New York State Militia.  It is now houses the offices of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and the Central Park Wildlife Conservation Center.

Lawrence was a co-founder of the National Academy of Design.  His other New York structures include the Admiral’s House on Governor’s Island and the Brooklyn Navy Yard’s stunning Naval Hospital, one of the city’s best Greek Revival buildings.

The Central Park Arsenal is one of only two buildings between 59th Street and 110th Street located on the western side of Fifth Avenue; the other is the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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