In 1954, Joseph Papp formed the New York Shakespeare Festival, a theatre company that started by giving free performances of Shakespeare's plays. In 1962 the city built the Delecorte Theatre just off Belvedere Pond in Central Park as a permanent summer facility. In addition to year-around productions of modern plays and musicals in it's downtown theatre complex, the Festival still produces two free productions of Shakespeare's plays at the Delecorte each Summer.
The Delacorte Theatre is named after publisher and philanthropist George T. Delacorte (1894-1991) who was the founder of Dell Books.
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).
The Shakespeare Garden sits just to the south of the theatre, around the path that leads up to Belvedere Castle.