7. Three Zoos in NYC
Camels in Central Park Zoo (Image via The Library of Congress)
Robert Moses had a thing for zoos, and thanks to him, the city gained four zoos during his tenure. The renovation of the Central Park Zoo was the most high profile project, with Moses aiming to create more humane conditions at the park menagerie. The design took only 16 days and construction about eight months, with financial support from the WPA. Nine new brick buildings were constructed. The new zoo was the home to gorillas, elephants, lions, bears, and tigers. In the lion house, there were 17 small separate lion spaces and an area to store food. Moses even included a bird hospital. During the renovation, Moses added a restaurant near the sea lion pool but that restaurant no longer exists. When the Central Park Zoo officially opened, Governor Al Smith was given the title of honorary zookeeper, and referred to himself as the “night superintendent.”
Moses was also responsible for creating the Prospect Park Zoo, similarly upgraded from a menagerie, and the Queens Zoo, built in 1968 on the site of the 1964 World’s Fair.