Brooklyn’s Prospect Park had one, complete with cows grazing beside it. Central Park’s still exists (minus the cows), but now it’s a visitors’ center.
The dairies and their on-site cows served a vital function at the time. Before pasteurization, milk—often brought in from upstate farms in warm wagons—routinely spoiled, sickening children.
And if they drank “swill milk,” it killed them. This rotten milk came from cows kept in city stables next to whiskey distilleries.
The cows were fed mash from the distilleries rather than grass, and the milk they produced was bulked up with flour or plaster to make it appear fresh.
Stronger food handling laws, pasteurization, and refrigeration helped make the park dairies obsolete in the 20th century. Prospect Park’s was torn down in the 1930s; the ornate, Victorian dairy in Central Park (at right) was restored a few decades ago.