Denis P. Gorman (1903-1963) was a civic leader devoted to providing recreational facilities for the youth of Queens. Through Gorman’s efforts, the City acquired this parkland, and today the playground honors his memory.
As well as being responsible for the construction of this playground, Gorman also helped to bring franchised bus service to Jackson Heights in 1932. He served as the Chairman of the Youth Activities Committee and built an impressive 20 Little League baseball fields in five months. He was head of the Elmjack Little League for ten years, a founding member of local youth councils, and he was affiliated with many other community organizations. Gorman also embarked on a political career when he served as the Democratic District Leader of Jackson Heights. After a lifetime spent serving his city, Gorman died in August, 1963. First named Jackson Heights Model Playground, in 1963 a local law renamed this site to honor Gorman shortly after his death.
On May 16, 1931, the City purchased this land from the Sonjack Land Corporation for $66,000. The playground opened to the public on August 11, 1934, equipped with a wading pool, athletic fields, children’s play equipment, and a field house containing a comfort station and a playroom. Gorman directed the preparation of the land at 19th Avenue and 80th Street for Little League baseball diamonds. The playground often hosted evening entertainment, such as social dancing and dramatic performances.
This site, bounded by 84th and 85th streets, and 25th and 30th avenues, is a recreational facility that also serves as a common meeting place for neighborhood residents. The playground contains street-hockey, volleyball, basketball and soccer courts, slides, tunnels, swings, sprinklers, and the Parcourse Fitness Center, which is equipped with a variety of exercise bars. During a 1984 renovation of $536,000, a playschool and new play equipment were added to the already existing playground. In 2000, Council Member John D. Sabini sponsored a $200,000 construction of the handball courts and fitness equipment.