Around the corner from the Chess and Checkers House overlooking Wollman Rink is a magnificent building known as The Diary. Currently a visitor center, this beautiful Victorian structure was used in the late 19th century as a working dairy where park visitors could sample a glass of fresh milk from the many cows that resided there.
And if they were lucky, they could meet Eloise, the world’s smartest cow!
Born in 1871 on a farm in upstate Nyack, Eloise was an average looking bovine no different from the other Holstiens in the barn, until the farmhands noticed Eloise not only understood what they were saying, but displayed visible discomfort when they used improper grammar.
Eloise’s superior intelligence attracted the attention of the owners of the Central Park Dairy, who purchased her for an undisclosed sum and brought her to The Dairy in 1875. Eloise quickly became something of a local celebrity as visitors from all over New York City stopped by to see this super smart cow. It was rumored newly elected Mayor William H. Whickham often visited Eloise to ask her for advice on important city matters and policy reform.
Sadly, Eloise’s stint as the toast of the town was short lived. In 1877 she tried to unionize the other cows in the Dairy, demanding safer working conditions and longer lunch breaks. Eloise was exiled to a small farming town in Vermont, where she lived out the remainder of her life grazing in a field and serving as a consultant for the local Chamber of Commerce.