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Parks Named For Local Philanthropists

Both philanthropists and local activists help in similar but different ways to make parks better places. Through generous philanthropic gifts, many women have played a key role in bettering New York City.

1945 Betsy Head girls basketball team poses at a tournament (March 9, 1945).

Betsy Head (1851-1907), for whom Betsy Head Park is named, was a British immigrant who left the City a large bequest to build recreational facilities; her estate was divided, half to 16 charities dedicated to the welfare of children, and the other half to New York for the "purchase and improvement of grounds for the purposes of health and recreation." The facilities at Betsy Head Playground in Brownsville, Brooklyn were paid for by funds bequeathed by Mrs. Head.

Loula D. Lasker (d. 1961), whose estate donated $600,000 to help build Lasker Rink in Central Park, was active in Hadassah and worked towards ameliorating housing problems in New York City.

Parks Commissioner Robert Moses chats with Kate Wollman at the dedication of Wollman Rink in Central Park, October 11, 1949.

Mary Rumsey (1881-1934), for whom Rumsey Playfield in Central Park is named, came from a philanthropic family. Kate Wollman (1870-1955) was the last surviving member of a family known for supporting charitable causes, especially the welfare of children. Ms. Wollman gave $600,000 toward the construction of Wollman Rink in Central Park, as a memorial to her parents, Mr. J. Wollman and Mrs. Bettie Wollman, and her four brothers. After Wollman died in 1955 at the age of 85, an estate was established to perpetuate her lifetime contributions. In 1961, a skating rink at Prospect Park, Brooklyn was dedicated in memory of Kate Wollman.

Related Links

Betsy Head Playground
Kate Wollman Ice Skating Rink (Prospect Park)
Lasker Rink Wollman Rink (Central Park)

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