Delacorte Theater

The Delacorte Theater is an open-air theater that serves as the venue for the Public’s free, summertime productions of Shakespeare in the Park.

Located along the shore of Turtle Pond and fittingly near Shakespeare Garden, this is a popular cultural destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike, who wait in long lines that snake along a nearby path for coveted tickets.

Shakespeare in the Park began in 1957 when Joseph Papp, a theater producer and founder of the Shakespeare Workshop, began organizing series of Shakespeare plays that travelled to various City parks. In Central Park, plays were performed near Turtle Pond, using a portable stage, lighting, and seats. (Some sources suggest that this site was chosen because the truck carrying the production equipment broke down in this location.) The popularity of the festival in Central Park and the challenge making the festival portable led to it becoming an annual tradition in the Park, with increasingly more elaborate—but still temporary—setups. In 1962, the City completed construction of a permanent home for the productions, with funding from philanthropist George Delacorte. The first production in the new theater was The Merchant of Venice, starring George C. Scott and James Earl Jones.