This is the headquarters of the city’s Parks Department, which moved here in 1934. Prior to that, it served as a police precinct, and the office of the weather bureau. For a time it was the home of the American Museum of Natural History, as well as the menagerie that later became the Central Park Zoo. In the beginning, though, it was an ammunition dump for the city’s militia. Reminders of those glorious days live on in the central stairway, whose newell posts resemble cannons. The balusters on the railings represent rifles, and the artillery theme continues with cannonballs guarded by a carving of an eagle. Its eight crenellated towers complete the image. Despite all that, this is a peaceful place within the city’s greatest sanctuary.
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