Locust Manor Playground
This playground, which first opened in 1954, serves both students at the adjoining P.S. 15 and residents of Springfield Gardens. Named after the nearby Long Island Rail Road station, Locust Manor was originally the name of a 1906 development project in the area.
The current area of Springfield Gardens was originally known as “Spring Fields” because of its system of natural ponds and creeks. These resources proved attractive to Dutch settlers, who first arrived in the 1640s. The irrigation system initially supplied water for crops and was later incorporated into the city’s water system, until the ponds became polluted. By 1700, Spring Fields was a small farm hamlet composed of a number of scattered homes assembled around dirt roads. In the mid-1800s all of southeastern Queens amounted to about 2000 residents, and because of its sparse population it suffered from a lack of basic services, such as sewers and utilities.
The lack of community services turned around for the residents of Spring Fields in the early 1900s when the Long Island Rail Road built a station here, causing an impressive real estate boom. By 1924 Spring Fields’ population had reached over 5,000 people, living in about 1,200 single-family homes. Dozens of additional streets were built during the 1920s and 1930s, as were hundreds of houses, causing the population to increase to approximately 15,000 by the late 1930s. Many of these new residents were Brooklynites looking for a getaway in the suburbs. The Post Office renamed the area “Springfield Gardens” in 1927, and the Long Island Rail Road renamed their station accordingly shortly thereafter.
Locust Manor Playground, located on 192nd Street to the south of 121st Avenue, opened in May 1954 during an important phase of playground construction in the City. Under the stewardship of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981), new playgrounds were constructed at an astonishing rate. When Moses took over in 1934, there were only 119 playgrounds in New York City. By 1960, the end of Moses’s reign at Parks, there were 777. When it opened, Locust Manor Playground was the 604th playground in the Parks system.
Jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education, Locust Manor Playground was originally known as P.S. 15 Playground until Commissioner Stern renamed it in 1985. The playground contains a full basketball court, two handball courts, a children’s playground with play equipment, safety surfacing and small swings, a flagpole with a yardarm, a spray shower, and a comfort station. The children’s playground was renovated in 2000, in Phase 1 of a 2-stage renovation, with the aid of a $185,000 allocation from Mayor Giuliani. Phase 1 saw the installation of new play equipment, safety surfacing and swings. Phase 2, scheduled to be completed in 2002, will fund reconstruction of the asphalt areas as adolescents play areas, with larger swings, benches and checker tables.