New York Aquarium

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New York Aquarium
South wall
Date opened December 10, 1896
Location 602 Surf Avenue, Brooklyn, NY, 11224
United States
Coordinates 40°34′27″N 73°58′30″W / 40.574292°N 73.975116°W / 40.574292; -73.975116Coordinates: 40°34′27″N 73°58′30″W / 40.574292°N 73.975116°W / 40.574292; -73.975116
Land area 14 acres (5.7 ha)
Memberships AZA[1]
Public transit access Subway: NYCS F NYCS Q at West Eighth Street – New York Aquarium
Bus: B36

The New York Aquarium is the oldest continually operating aquarium in the United States, having opened in Castle Garden in Battery Park, Manhattan in 1896. Since 1957, it has been located on the boardwalk in Coney Island, Brooklyn. The aquarium is managed by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) as part of its integrated system of four zoos and one aquarium, most notably the Bronx Zoo. It is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

The facility occupies 14 acres and boasts over 350 species of aquatic wildlife. Its mission is to raise public awareness about issues facing the ocean and its inhabitants with special exhibits, public events and research. At the Aquarium’s Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences (OLMS), several studies were conducted investigating such topics as dolphin cognition, satellite tagging of sharks, and coral reefs.[2]


The aquarium used to be housed in Castle Clinton (left) in Battery Park (image before 1923)

The New York Aquarium opened on December 10, 1896, at Castle Garden in Battery Park. Its first director was the respected fish expert, Dr. Tarleton Hoffman Bean (1895–1898). On October 31, 1902, the Aquarium was adopted into the care of what was then the New York Zoological Society. At the time, the Aquarium housed only 150 specimens of wildlife. Over time, its most famous director, the distinguished zoologist Charles Haskins Townsend, enlarged the collections considerably, and the Aquarium attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

Early in October 1941, the Aquarium at Battery Park was controversially closed based on claims of NYC Parks Commissioner Robert Moses that the proposed construction of a tunnel from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn might undermine Castle Clinton's foundation. Many of the Aquarium’s sea creatures were temporarily housed at the Bronx Zoo until the new aquarium was built after World War II. On June 6, 1957, the Aquarium opened its doors at its new location in Coney Island, Brooklyn. A notable director of the Aquarium was James Arthur Oliver, who was director from 1970 until 1976. Oliver also held directorships at the Bronx Zoo and the American Museum of Natural History during his career - the only person to have been director of all three institutions.

On August 19, 2005 authorities revealed they received a letter written half a century before by Stella Ferrucci-Good. In it, the woman identified a location near West Eighth Street in Coney Island at the current site of the New York Aquarium, where she claimed judge Joseph F. Crater was buried under the boardwalk. Police reported that no records had been found to indicate that skeletal remains had been discovered at that site in the 1950s.[3] Richard J. Tofel, the author of Vanishing Point: The Disappearance of Judge Crater and the New York He Left Behind, expressed skepticism of Ferrucci-Good's account.[3]

The aquarium's beluga whales were transferred to the Georgia Aquarium in 2007 as part of a breeding program.[4] In September 2011, the aquarium named its new electric eel Wattson,[5] and in March 2012, it launched a sea horse breeding program.[6]

The New York Aquarium was significantly damaged by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012 which severely flooded the facility and shut down power resulting in the deaths of many fish who relied on the electricity to run their exhibits aeration systems and heaters. A small group of WCS staff who remained onsite during the hurricane were able to save the rest of the animals. The aquarium partially reopened on May 25, 2013.[7]

A massive new expansion comprising its extensive addition, Ocean Wonders: Sharks!, is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016.


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