Wollman Rink

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Wollman Rink during the daytime
Summertime amusement park
Map of notable buildings and structures at Central Park (note: not all entrances shown). Pan and zoom the map and click on points for more details.

Wollman Rink is a public ice rink in the southern part of Central Park, Manhattan, New York City. It is named after the Wollman family who donated the funds for its original construction.[1] The rink is open for ice skating from late October to early April; from late May to September it is transformed into Victorian Gardens, an amusement park for children.

The ice rink is currently operated by the Trump Organization. The children's amusement park is operated by Central Amusement International, LLC, who also operates the Luna Park amusement park in Coney Island, Brooklyn.

Site[edit]

The rink is located at the southeast corner of Central Park. It was formerly part of the Pond, located directly east of Wollman Rink. The Pond's western section was drained and backfilled during the mid-20th century.[2]

Wollman Rink at Central Park is distinct from the Kate Wollman Memorial Rink at Prospect Park in Brooklyn which was built with money donated by the William J. Wollman Foundation after Kate Wollman's death.[1] It was operational from 1961[3] until its demolition in 2010.[4]

History[edit]

Wollman Rink opened in 1950.[5] The rink was closed for renovations in the winter of 1980 and reopened in November 1986.[6] In 2003, the "Victorian Gardens" amusement park with rides "specifically geared to ages 2-12 years old" opened its gates to the general public during the summer months for the first time.[7]

Initial planning and funding[edit]

A skating rink in the southeastern corner of Central Park was first proposed in 1945.[8] In 1949, philanthropist Kate Wollman (1869–1955)[9] donated $600,000 for the rink's construction to commemorate her family.[1] She is the great-aunt of Henry and Richard Bloch, co-founders of H&R Block.[10] One of her brothers was William J. Wollman, who operated the W.J. Wollman & Co. stock exchange firm, originally in Kansas City and later in New York. After he died in 1937, she helped administer his estate.[11]

Concert venue[edit]

Until 1980, the rink was the venue for a series of outdoor summer rock, pop, country, and jazz concerts. Initially the "Wollman Theater" or "Wollman Skating Rink Theater" had 4,400 seats; bleachers were added in 1972 to increase the capacity to 8,000.[12] In the summer of 1957, WOR radio personality Jean Shepherd hosted a series of "Jazz under the stars" concerts on 15 consecutive nights, featuring Billie Holiday, Bud Powell, Lionel Hampton, Dave Brubeck, Dizzy Gillespie, Buddy Rich, Dinah Washington, Stan Getz, and others.[13] From 1966 to 1980, summer music festivals consisting of 30 to 50 concerts each summer took place at the rink.[12] The festivals were named after their main sponsors, Rheingold Breweries in 1966 and 1967, F. & M. Schaefer Brewing Company from 1968 to 1976 when the festival was called the Schaefer Music Festival,[12] and Dr Pepper from 1977 to 1980 when it was called the Dr Pepper Central Park Music Festival.[14] The Jimi Hendrix Experience, The Who, Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, and the Patti Smith Group were some of the biggest rock groups who played at the rink;[14] country, blues, rhythm & blues, and jazz artists included Earl Scruggs, John Lee Hooker, The Supremes, and Buddy Rich.[15][16][17][18]

Renovation: 1980–1986[edit]

In 1974, the New York City Parks and Recreation Department started planning a renovation of the rink, including switching the refrigeration system from brinewater to liquid Freon to lower the operation costs at a time of rising fuel costs.[19] In January 1975, a $4 million plan to renovate Wollman Rink at the park's southeastern corner was announced.[20] By late 1975, the Central Park Task Force, an agency of NYC Parks, released a revised plan to dredge the Pond and redesign the landscaping in the park's southeastern corner for $2.5 million.[21] All plans were deferred due to the 1975 New York City fiscal crisis.[6][19]

The rink had to be closed in the winter of 1980 when its concrete floor buckled; at that time, the renovation was estimated to cost up to $4.9 million and take two years. Due to the necessity of soliciting bids for three separate contracts and a series of planning errors, construction mishaps, and flooding caused by heavy rains, the renovations had not been completed by May 1986 when the city decided to use brinewater in plastic pipes. By that time, $12.9 million had been spent, with an additional $2 to $3 million estimated to complete the work by the winter of 1987.[6][19]

Donald Trump then offered Mayor Ed Koch to rebuild Wollman Rink at his expense within six months, in return for the leases to operate the rink and an adjacent restaurant to recoup his costs. The final agreement was that the city would reimburse Trump for the costs up to the agreed limit and that he would donate the profits of rink and restaurant to charity and public works.[6][22] Trump asked his contractors, among them HRH Construction, to also do the work without making a profit, promising them publicity but not mentioning their contributions to the press afterwards.[23] The work was completed two months ahead of schedule and $750,000 under the estimated costs.[6][24] As part of the agreement to keep operating Wollman Rink, Trump agreed to also take a concession for the Lasker Rink as well, and the Trump Organization won concessions for the rinks in 1987.[25]

Skating rink operation: 1986–present[edit]

When the rink reopened in November 1986,[6][26] ticket prices were raised from $2.50 to $4.50, and attendance was up from 130,000 in 1980 to 250,000 in 1987. As part of its agreement with the city, the Trump Organization donated most of the profit to public works, including $50,000 for the rink’s electricity costs, and to charity, among them United Cerebral Palsy, Partnership for the Homeless, and Gay Men’s Health Crisis.[27] The Trump Organization held the concession until 1995. Its subsidiary Wollman Rink Operations LLC won another contract in 2001 to operate the rink through April 30, 2021.[28][29] Wollman Rink Operations LLC is owned by DJT Holdings LLC which is owned by the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust for the duration of Trump's presidency.[28]

In popular culture[edit]

Wollman Rink has been featured in several movies, including Love Story (1970),[30] Carnal Knowledge (1971), The Devil’s Own (1997),[31] Serendipity (2001),[30] and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992).[32][33] It was also featured in the video game Mat Hoffman's Pro BMX, in the music video Two Become One, and on Impractical Jokers.[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c McKinley, Jesse (December 24, 1995). "F.Y.I". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  2. ^ Budin, Jeremiah (December 2, 2015). "How New York's Central Park Escaped Dozens of Misguided 'Improvements'". Curbed. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  3. ^ "New Wollman Rink Is Dedicated in Brooklyn". The New York Times. December 23, 1961. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  4. ^ Pollak, Michael (August 7, 2011). "Monitoring Progress of Wollman Rink in Prospect Park". The New York Times. Retrieved February 16, 2019.
  5. ^ "New Skating Rink in Central Park To Be Opened to Public Thursday". The New York Times. December 18, 1950. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Freedlander, David (September 29, 2015). "A 1980s New York City Battle Explains Donald Trump's Candidacy". Bloomberg. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  7. ^ "About Us". Victorian Gardens. Retrieved January 19, 2013.
  8. ^ "CITY PLANS SKATING RINK". The New York Times. May 12, 1945. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  9. ^ "Wollman Family Collection" (PDF). State Historical Society of Missouri. April 23, 2019. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  10. ^ Hershey, Jr., Robert D. (April 23, 2019). "Henry W. Bloch, Tax-Preparation Pioneer (and Pitchman), Is Dead at 96". The New York Times. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  11. ^ "Rink, Play Area in Central Park Provided in $600,000 Gift to City". The New York Times. May 17, 1949. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 23, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Rockwell, John (June 18, 1975). "A Tradition Here Ends as Event Seeks Site for 1976". The New York Times. Retrieved May 26, 2019.
  13. ^ ebbergmann (January 21, 2014). "Jean Shepherd—chart—and all that jazz". shepquest.wordpress. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  14. ^ a b Mastropolo, Frank (August 15, 2016). "Central Park's Biggest Rock Concerts". Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  15. ^ "Rheingold/Schaefer Music Festival". setlist.fm. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  16. ^ "Rheingold Central Park Music Festival". setlist.fm. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  17. ^ "Schaefer Music Festival Setlists". setlist.fm. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  18. ^ "Dr. Pepper Summer Music Festival Setlists". setlist.fm. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  19. ^ a b c "New York Hopes to Learn From Rink Trump Fixed; Wollman Rink Scorecard". The New York Times. November 21, 1986. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  20. ^ "Central Park on Thin Ice". The New York Times. January 23, 1975. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  21. ^ Goldberger, Paul (September 28, 1975). "Plan Completed for Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Daley, Suzanne (June 6, 1986). "Trump to Rebuild Wollman Rink at the City's Expense by Dec. 15". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  23. ^ Babin, Janet (October 19, 2016). "Is Donald Trump Saving NYC Millions, or Making Millions Off Taxpayers?". WNYC News. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  24. ^ Kula, Irwin; Hatkoff, Craig (August 24, 2015). "Donald Trump And The Wollman Rinking of American Politics". Forbes. Retrieved February 12, 2019.
  25. ^ Anderson, Susan Heller (October 15, 1987). "Trump to Run 2 Ice-Skating Rinks in Central Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 18, 2019.
  26. ^ Douville, Amanda (April 5, 2016). "Look back at Donald Trump's start in real estate in his native New York City". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  27. ^ Rosenthal, Andrew (April 1, 1987). "Trump reports large profit from Wollman Rink". The New York Times. Retrieved May 9, 2018.
  28. ^ a b Bump, Philip (May 16, 2018). "Trump has earned $59 million in three years running attractions for New York City". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  29. ^ "Audit Report On The Compliance Of Wollman Rink Operations Llc With Its License Agreement And Payment Of License Fees Due". New York City Comptroller. July 5, 2007. Retrieved May 30, 2019.
  30. ^ a b Alleman 2005, p. 90.
  31. ^ Alleman 2005, p. 92.
  32. ^ Alberts, Hana R. (November 7, 2017). "The definitive guide to 'Home Alone 2' filming locations in NYC". Curbed New York. Retrieved August 10, 2019.
  33. ^ Wierenga, Alexis (December 21, 2018). "Six Iconic Locations In New York Featured In Christmas Movies". Newsweek. Retrieved August 10, 2019.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°46′03″N 73°58′28″W / 40.76750°N 73.97444°W / 40.76750; -73.97444