This playground takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood of Bellerose. This name comes from the achievements of Helen Marsh, an entrepreneur from Massachusetts who built a model community and a railroad station in western Nassau, calling it Bellerose. The neighborhood adopted the same name as it expanded during the building boom of the 1920s, aided by Marsh’s construction of a railway station here on the Long Island Rail Road line in 1911.
Not to be confused with Bellerose Village or Bellerose Terrace in nearby Nassau County, this area is a related Queens community. It is bounded by Little Neck Parkway on the East, Grand Central Parkway on the West, the Creedmoor State Hospital on the North and Braddock and Jamaica Avenues to the South.
Part of a large Jamaica land grant from Peter Stuyvesant (1610-1672), Director General of New Netherland (as New York City was then known), English colonists first settled Bellerose in 1656. Following the British defeat of the Dutch, the area became a British colony, joining Queens County in 1683. Until the early 20th century Bellerose was largely farmland known as “Little Plains.” It was not until the Long Island Rail Road extended to the area that large numbers of people moved to Bellerose.
Urbanization did not mean an easy relationship with the rest of New York City. Community groups worked hard to remind others that Bellerose is part of the city. The Lost Community Civic Association, formed in 1948, has recently successfully formed a citizens’ patrol and fought for an extended bus service along Union Turnpike to Lakeville Road. Since the city built the Cross Island Parkway through the heart of Bellerose’s commercial strip in 1939, residents have struggled to maintain the character of their neighborhood. They have succeeded in downzoning the area land parcels to discourage high-rise apartment buildings, and groups have challenged the City’s decision to cut down 95 trees to widen the Cross Island Parkway.
This playground, located on 85th Avenue between 248th and 249th streets, opened on June 30th, 1950, featuring basketball and volleyball courts, a softball diamond, and a separate area with sand pits and play equipment. Today, Bellerose playground contains two full-size handball courts, three basketball half-courts, swings, play equipment, a yardarm, and a comfort station.