Parks first constructed a playground at the intersection of 182nd St. and Belmont Ave. in 1937. A press release from July of that year announced the opening of “five playgrounds, constructed by the Department of Parks with relief labor and funds,” noting that “These playgrounds are five of the twenty-four sites in neglected areas selected by the Commissioner of Parks and acquired by condemnation after authorization by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment on July 15, 1936.”
One of these five playgrounds was located on part of what is now Belmont Playground. Today’s Parks website explains that at its opening in 1937, the playground “was furnished with a variety of play equipment and featured a specially designated area for the popular pastime of roller-skating.” Two adjacent parcels were acquired in 1941. A Parks Department press release from December 4, 1941 describes extensive WPA work being done to transform the park:
“At the north end of the block formed by East 182 Street, Crotona Avenue, East 181 Street and Belmont Avenue in the Bronx, the existing three-quarter acre playground is being expanded to 2¼ acres…
The existing brick comfort station, concrete wading pool and handball courts will be retained with no modifications. The balance of the existing layout, consisting of several pieces of play apparatus, will be changed to permit a unified development of the enlarged area. The old play surfaces as well as the new additions will be surfaced with bituminous material…
Two wide grass panels containing flowering Hawthornes and Linden trees will extend along the west boundary of these areas on each side of the entrance walk loading from Belmont Avenue. The planted panels will be protected by a wrought iron picket fence. A new concrete sidewalk and row of Lindens will be placed along the north and west street curbs. An irrigated sandpit with tree shaded benches on three sides will be located within the old play area north of the wading pool.
The existing roller skating track south of the two handball courts will be replaced by two asphalt surfaced tennis courts with removable posts.
…A combined ice skating rink and Softball diamond will be built south of the wading pool and tennis courts on the upper level with access from the school grounds to the south. The lower level, approximately 100′ x 200′, will contain the following facilities:
7 Shuffleboard courts
4 Handball courts utilizing 16 foot high retaining wall as backstops
1 Combination volleyball and basketball court
1 Practice basketball standard
The work is being done by the Work Projects Administration from plans prepared by the Department of Parks and approved by the Board of Education.”
Belmont Playground last underwent a major renovation in the 1990s.
Department of Parks, Press Release, July 28, 1937 Department of Parks, Press Release, December 4, 1941 NYC Parks - Belmont Playground
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on June 5, 2015.
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