Delacorte Public Restroom and Accessibility Improvements

Constructed in 1912, the Delacorte public restroom originally backed onto the western wall of the Old Croton Reservoir. Early on it was referred to as the Belvedere comfort station for its proximity to Belvedere Castle. The decades that followed saw a transformation of the surrounding landscape and use, beginning in 1916 with the addition of the terraced Shakespeare Garden built into the slope between the Swedish Cottage and the Belvedere. A far more dramatic change of context followed in the mid-1930s with the demolition and filling of the obsolete reservoir and its replacement by the Great Lawn. In 1962, the Delacorte Theater was built on the east side of the restroom building to serve as a home to the Public Theater’s Shakespeare in the Park program.

The one-story public restroom has a gray slate roof finished with copper ridges, flashing, and gutters. Historically, the building had multi-light leaded glass windows, Collegiate Gothic-style entry door and transom assemblies, and wood attic louvers. The public restroom has undergone multiple alterations, renovations, and selective removals over the past century.

The Central Park Conservancy is reconstructing the Delacorte public restroom and improving accessibility in the surrounding area. Our work is in tandem with the Public Theater’s reconstruction of the Delacorte Theater, which began in fall 2023. The public restroom serves as the primary restroom for visitors to the theater and nearby landscapes.

This project will include a comprehensive restoration of the building envelope. We will also renovate the interior to increase restroom capacity and replace fixtures and finishes, update building systems and utility infrastructure, and improve the network of paths in this section of the Park to create multiple accessible routes to the theater and restroom. We will also improve accessibility to other Park locations and facilities, including the Great Lawn, Swedish Cottage, and Shakespeare Garden. Although accessibility is the primary objective, the project will also serve to repair, replace, and upgrade Park infrastructure in conjunction with regrading and repaving paths as is typical for a Park landscape restoration project.

This project will begin the week of June 17 with a target completion of spring 2025.

Project Goals

Public Restroom

  • Restoring the building’s exterior to be consistent with its historic design
  • Updating mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems to reduce the carbon footprint of the building
  • Improving accessibility to meet jurisdictional requirements and best practices
  • Maximizing fixture count in the women’s restroom by reconfiguring interior partitions

Site Accessibility Improvements

  • Creating multiple accessible routes to the theater and restroom from the West Drive and the West 81st Street entrance
  • Improving accessibility to adjacent Park locations and facilities

Scope of Work

Construction to the building envelope will include:

  • Selective replacement and repairs to the slate roof
  • Replacement of the gutter system
  • Restoration of the exterior masonry, including cleaning, repointing, and replacement of lost or damaged elements
  • Structural repairs
  • Replacement of windows and doors based on historic photographs

Interior renovations will include:

  • Reconfiguration of the building interior (including the removal of the attendants’ rooms and the non-original service entrance and stairs on the east side) to increase capacity and accommodate more Park visitors
  • The full replacement of interior fixtures, finishes, and lighting

Building systems updates include:

  • New mechanical (heating and ventilation), electrical, and plumbing systems
  • A new life safety system, as required by code

Site accessibility improvements will include:

  • Regrading and repaving of paths
  • The addition of ADA accessibility ramps and handrails in required locations
  • The repair, replacement, and enhancement of Park infrastructure

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