J. Hood Wright Park Improvements Are Unveiled
On August 10, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Assembly Member Herman D. Farrell, Jr., Community Boart 12 Chair Wayne Benjamin, and Friends of J. Hood Wright Park’s Diana Douglas to cut the ribbon on $1.75 million in renovations at J. Hood Wright Park and Recreation Center.
The renovations, generously funded with a $1.7 million allocation from City Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez and $50,000 from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, included reconstruction of the central lawn panel with additional water access and drainage, replacement of the safety surface under the main unit in the playground, and reconstruction of the dog run with water access and repaving of paths and the entrance ramp from Pinehurst Street. The designer was Jon Ernsberger, the resident engineer was Patrick Rodgers and the contractor was A. Gross Construction Associates.
In addition to improvements made to the park, work is also underway on the recreation center, which involves the installation of an HVAC system and repairs to the roof, including the distinctive cupola. There’s no better time to join a Parks’ recreation center. Joining gives New Yorkers access to a network of facilities in all five boroughs, including indoor pools, running tracks and fitness rooms, for 41 cents a day for adults.
J. Hood Wright Park was named for the former owner of the site who was a wealthy banker and financier from Philadelphia. He was also a philanthropist, and played a very important role in the development of the Northern Manhattan community. He made large contributions to what is now the Washington Heights Branch of the New York Public Library, converting it from a subscription library to a free library in 1883. Wright was also instrumental in the founding of the Manhattan Hospital at Amsterdam Avenue and 131st Street, which was named for him after he died.
J. Hood Wright Park sits on property that made up much of Wright’s estate. His mansion was called “The Folly,” probably by fellow members of the upper class who couldn’t believe that he chose to live so far uptown, and was located on the western edge near Haven Avenue.
Since its completion in 1935, the park has been a popular spot for neighborhood residents who play sports, picnic on the grass, play chess, or just enjoy sitting on a bench chatting with their friends. Stunning views of the Hudson River and the George Washington Bridge draw visitors to the overlook at the northwestern corner of the park, where Wright’s mansion once stood.
Another notable feature of the park is the rock formations at Haven Avenue, which include a cave similar to the ones in Inwood Hill Park, and an outcropping of Manhattan schist in the Park’s southwest corner.
In the 1990’s, J. Hood Wright Park underwent substantial capital improvements. The playground, which was designed to look like the George Washington Bridge, and game area, were remodeled under a $2 million project funded by former Borough President Ruth Messinger and then Council Member Guillermo Linares. The recreation center also underwent a $1.8 million reconstruction.
QUOTATION OF THE DAY
“Everything has its wonders, even darkness and silence,
and I learn whatever state I am in, therin to be content.”
(1880 - 1968)