A Timeless Masterpiece: The Secrets Behind Central Park’s Iconic Delacorte Clock

Nestled within the natural beauty of Central Park stands a beloved gem that has captured the hearts (and also eyes and ears!) of Park visitors for over five decades. With its delightful bronze sculptures and musical chimes, the Delacorte Clock possesses some little-known secrets about its history and engineering.

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The arched brick arcade that houses the Delacorte Clock was a collaboration by Spanish designer Fernando Texidor and American architect Edward Coe Embury.

A Timeless Gift

Sometimes, all you need is a little inspiration. For publisher and philanthropist George Delacorte, a visit to Europe ignited a spark. He was captivated by glockenspiel and automaton clocks, such as the Zytglogge in Bern, Switzerland. When he returned from his trip, George approached Parks Commissioner Robert Moses about creating a modern timepiece as a gift for the children who visited Central Park. He donated the funds to build the clock, and Spanish designer Fernando Texidor and American architect Edward Coe Embury worked together to build the brick arcade that houses it.

Spanning the area between the Central Park Zoo and the Tisch Children’s Zoo, the clock first opened to the public in 1965. Since then, its design has undergone a few changes, though the differences are minimal to the untrained eye. Several of the clock’s previous Victorian-style details no longer exist.

While the Delacorte Clock has received a few updates over time, it serves as an embodiment of Delacorte’s legacy, commitment to generosity, and community spirit.

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The clock’s lively ensemble features six bronze animals: a goat on the horn, a hippo on the violin, an elephant on the accordion, a penguin on the drums, a bear on the tambourine, and a kangaroo on the French horn.

Six Bronze Animals and a Joyous Chime

With each passing half hour, the Delacorte Clock springs to life. It features six bronze animals: a goat on the horn, a hippo on the violin, an elephant on the accordion, a penguin on the drums, a bear on the tambourine, and a kangaroo on the French horn. Each sculpture was meticulously designed by Italian sculptor Andrea Spadini, whose signature is inscribed on the base of each animal.

Don’t miss the musical menagerie performing every half hour between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm daily. All six animals run along a track, dancing in a circle to the melody of the clock’s chimes as it enchants Park visitors with its visual and auditory spectacle. The digitally programmed music changes throughout the year, playing an assortment of nursery rhymes, as well as seasonal tunes during the holidays.

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Preservation Foreperson Hamid Alaoui (right) and Preservation Technician Cara Cincione (left) keeping the Clock’s track free of debris so it runs smoothly.

Like Clockwork

The Delacorte Clock requires constant attention to ensure it runs smoothly. Hamid Alaoui, a member of the Central Park Conservancy’s Preservation team, cares for it every day by ensuring the track is free of any debris. In addition, the Conservancy’s Preservation team cleans the bronze animal sculptures regularly and applies a protective wax coating annually.

In a bustling city where time flashes by in a blur, the Delacorte Clock serves as a timeless reminder to enjoy the beauty and tranquility that can be found in Central Park. On your next Park visit, take a moment to gaze at the bronze animals as they rotate in unison with the relaxing chime echoing throughout New York City’s backyard.

What Songs Does the Delacorte Clock Play?

March 2 through May 31
Apple Blossom Time
April Showers Easter Parade
Oh, What a Beautiful Morning
Peter Cottontail
Younger Than Springtime
Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head
Gypsy Love Song
Hello Young Love
It Might as Well Be Spring
Waltz of the Flowers
Singing in the Rain
Surrey with the Fringe on Top
Glow Worm
What the World Needs Now
April in Paris
Tiptoe through the Tulips

June 1–November 30 and December 26–March 1
Frère Jacques
Hickory Dickory Dock
Ding Dong Dell
Hey Diddle Diddle
Georgie Porgie
Little Jack Horner
Mary Had a Little Lamb
Three Blind Mice
Pussy Cat
Sing a Song of Sixpence
Parade of the Wooden Soldiers
Baa Baa Black Sheep
A-Tisket, A-Tasket
Farmer in the Dell
Row, Row, Row Your Boat
Sailing, Sailing
Au Clair de la Lune
Little Nut Tree
Old King Cole

December 1–December 25
Winter Wonderland
Deck the Halls
O Little Town of Bethlehem
Hark! The Herald Angels
The First Noel
Jingle Bells
Silent Night
Joy to the World
Chanukah, Oh Chanukah!
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel
Silver Bells
Let It Snow
White Christmas
Sleigh Ride

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