Rodney Park Center
Rodney Park Center
Located east of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE, between Broadway and South 5th Street, this park is located directly between two other parks, Rodney Park North and Rodney Park South, that all take their names from nearby Rodney Street. Rodney Street, in turn, honors American patriot and statesman, Caesar Rodney (1728-1784).
Born near Dover, Delaware, Rodney was active in Delaware and national politics throughout his life. He was a member of the Delaware assembly (1761-1770, 1772-1776), and served as that body’s speaker (1769, 1773-1776), as well as speaker of the Stamp Act Congress in 1765. Rodney also served as Delaware’s delegate to the First Continental Congress as tensions mounted between the American colonists and the British government. A strong advocate for colonial independence, Rodney was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. During the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783) he commanded the Delaware militia, attaining the rank of major general by the war’s end. In 1778, Rodney was elected the president, or chief executive, of newly independent Delaware, a position that he held until a year before his death in 1784.
In 1952, as part of the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, the City of New York acquired this property and transferred jurisdiction to Parks. The BQE was built under the direction of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Chairman, Long Island State Park Commissioner, and New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) between 1946 and 1964. This massive six-lane, 11.7 mile-long expressway cost $137 million in federal, state, and municipal funds to complete. Despite its high cost, the BQE was intended to not only relieve congestion on local streets, but also to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs. After repeated rehabilitation attempts in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, the BQE will receive a $240-million dollar comprehensive reconstruction from the New York State Department of Transportation, beginning this year and scheduled to be completed in 2004.
Today, Rodney Park Center features handball courts, as well as several benches. For local residents, it is a welcome place for recreation and relaxation along a busy thoroughfare.