The Arsenal is home to the headquarters of NYC Parks and the Central Park Zoo, as well as the Arsenal Gallery, where several fine art and photography exhibitions are mounted annually.

The Arsenal is one of two buildings within Central Park's footprint that predate the Park itself. It was designated an official New York City Landmark in 1967. Erected between 1847 and 1851, the building has held much City history within its walls. In the lobby, 1930s WPA murals depict 19th-century Central Park and soldiers in formation. These pieces allude to the building’s origins as a munitions supply depot for New York State’s militia.

Within two years of the Arsenal’s opening, the City took the land for the creation of Central Park and purchased the building and surrounding area for $275,000. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it housed a police precinct, weather bureau, the first American Museum of Natural History, and a menagerie of animals.