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Nestled under a canopy of majestic trees, The Delacorte Theater is a unique destination in the heart of Central Park. It provides hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors with the transformative experience of The Public Theater’s Free Shakespeare in the Park. 

After 61 years as the home of Free Shakespeare in the Park, The Delacorte Theater is due for a major makeover. When The Delacorte reopens in the summer of 2025, it will be more welcoming, more accessible, and more sustainable than ever before.    

The Delacorte project is publicly and privately funded with $42 million contributed by the New York City Mayor, City Council, and Manhattan Borough President, as well as $1 million from New York Assembly Member O’Donnell. The Public also wishes to acknowledge State Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal and NYC Parks who have contributed funding to the Central Park Conservancy’s Delacorte restroom renovation project. The Public is enormously grateful to those who have supported this project, including its generous Board of Trustees.   

The Public Theater, in partnership with the Central Park Conservancy, NYC Parks, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, is proud to lead this historic revitalization. This work will ensure The Delacorte remains part of this great city for future generations.


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JUNE 2024:

Conduit has been installed in exterior trenches along the facade to the new emergency generator in Gate 5. Under the grandstand, trenches have been dug to begin outlining placement for interior rooms on the east side. 

On top of the grandstand, new brackets are being installed in the lower bowl to support the wood decking.  

Photos by Shelly Vance


WATCH: Spectrum News NY1

WATCH: Spectrum News NY1

This summer, the Delacorte is undergoing a revitalization, preparing it for more decades of free Shakespeare for New Yorkers.

NY1 got a look at the progress with Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis.




Built in 1962, the theater has not undergone meaningful capital upgrades since 1999. The plan — a major investment in outdoor cultural space as part of New York’s economic recovery — will dramatically improve the home of Free Shakespeare in the Park.This design comprehensively addresses the theater’s outstanding code and safety needs, makes core improvements to infrastructure and backstage efficiency, and makes meaningful upgrades to support its theatrical program. The design is also contextual and maintains The Delacorte’s current form, footprint, and views within the park while protecting the sanctity of the theater in the park experience. 

 We are thrilled to work with our longtime partner once again, Ennead Architects. Ennead oversaw the revitalization of the facade and public spaces at our flagship location on Lafayette Street in 2012 and the recent renovation of the Rehearsal Annex. Ennead has led many other marquee cultural revitalization projects in New York, including the Brooklyn Museum entry pavilion and plaza, Jazz at Lincoln Center, Symphony Space, Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall, and the Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History. This continued relationship is based on shared commitments to creating spaces that center radical welcome and equity.


The key proposed design includes:

  • Ramps for audiences and more accessible seating  
  • Accessible box office and concessions booths  
  • Modified stage and work areas for artists, company members, and staff  
  • Improved building and wayfinding signage  
  • A stunning façade built using reclaimed redwood from decommissioned water tanks across New York City   
  • Water protection and drainage systems to reduce flooding and improve water mitigation   
  • Newly designed lighting towers improving lighting for the stage and performances  


With over six decades of operation, including the recent staging of the widely-acclaimed performances of Merry Wives, Much Ado About Nothing, Public Works' Hercules, Twelfth Night, and Public Works' As You Like It, and more than five million tickets distributed, Free Shakespeare in the Park is one of New York City’s most iconic cultural experiences.  

Conceived by founder Joseph Papp as a way to make great theater accessible to all, The Delacorte Theater officially opened in Central Park on June 18, 1962, with The Merchant of Venice, directed by Papp and Gladys Vaughan and featuring George C. Scott as Shylock. The Merchant of Venice was followed that summer by a production of The Tempest, directed by Gerald Freedman and featuring Paul Stevens as Prospero and James Earl Jones as Caliban. The first Delacorte summer season concluded with King Lear, directed by Papp and Vaughan and featuring Frank Silvera as Lear.  Since then more than 150 productions have been presented for free at The Delacorte Theater in Central Park. 


Coming Summer 2025
THE DELACORTE IS... | The Public Theater
The Magic of Free Shakespeare in the Park


Words of Support

Capital Campaign Donors

Ennead Architects