Rumsey Playfield

Rumsey Playfield

Just off the eastern edge of the Mall, Rumsey Playfield is a spacious outdoor entertainment venue featuring all types of cultural delights - music, dance, spoken word, film. Rumsey Playfield is most synonymous with the Park’s famous SummerStage performing arts festival, where world-renowned and emerging artists have performed. Past guests include Curtis Mayfield, the Beastie Boys, and Vampire Weekend.

The site now known as Rumsey Playfield has provided entertainment in the Park for more than a century. In order to provide a welcoming environment for women, the commissioners originally requested that Calvert Vaux design the Casino, a Ladies’ Refreshment Salon that overlooked the Concert Ground.

In the 1920s, the simple restaurant was redesigned in sumptuous crystal and gold to be an art deco nightclub. “Gentleman” Jimmy Walker, the mayor of New York City, his mistress, and other members of high society came here to dine in splendor. The Casino had two orchestras, featuring the talents of Eddie Duchin and such stars as Ethel Merman.

After the glitter of the Roaring 20s passed, the City did away with the high-end nightclub. The elegant building was razed by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses in the 1930s and transformed once more into a playground for children. After decades of use, the playground became rundown and was in desperate need of repair.

In 1985, the Central Park Conservancy restored it as Rumsey Playfield, a place for school groups to play sports and a venue for performances.


East Side at 71st Street

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