In 1954, Joseph Papp formed the New York Shakespeare Festival, a theatre company that started by giving free performances of Shakespeare's plays. The city originally built a temporary theatre just off Belvedere Pond in Central Park in 1962, with a more permanent outdoor amphitheatre following a few years later. The theatre was extensively renovated in the late 1990s.
The Delacorte Theatre is named after publisher and philanthropist George T. Delacorte (1894-1991) who was the founder of Dell Books.
The closest Park entrance from the East Side is Fifth Avenue at 79th Street; from the West Side, Central Park West at 81st Street.
The two statues of Shakespearean characters that stand in front of the Delacorte Theatre were gifts from Delacorte that were sculpted by Milton Hebald (b. 1917). Prospero is depicted in The Tempest, which was unveiled in 1966 (reference). The two star-crossed lovers embrace in a scene from Romeo and Juliet, which was unveiled in 1977 (reference).
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