Formerly known as P.S. 145 Playground, this parkland was renamed in 1997 to reflect the rich history of the area. The Upper West Side was named Bloomingdale by 17th century Dutch and Flemish settlers after a town near Haarlem in the Netherlands. The word “bloomingdale” is an adaptation of the Dutch word “bloomendaal,” or “vale of flowers,” which reflected the geography of the area before it was leveled and developed. In Knickerbocker’s History of New York, Washington Irving described the area as “a sweet rural valley, beautiful with many a bright flower, refreshed by many a pure streamlet, and enlivened here and there by a delectable little Dutch cottage, sheltered under some sloping hill; and almost buried in embowering trees.”
Amsterdam Avenue, which forms one of this park’s borders, is another reminder of the Dutch presence. Amsterdam, the capital of Holland, had played an important role in the New World economy during the 1700’s. The street was originally part of Tenth Avenue, but residents renamed it Amsterdam Avenue in 1890 to honor the area’s first settlers, and also in the hopes that the name change would increase neighborhood property values.
Other historic landmarks in Manhattan take the Bloomingdale name as well. Bloomingdale Road, which opened in 1703, ran from 23rd Street to 147th Street along what is now Broadway. The Bloomingdale Insane Asylum was the first mental hospital in New York State. It opened in Morningside Heights in 1821 as part of New York Hospital. Current institutions using the name include the Bloomingdale Branch Public Library and the Bloomingdale School of Music.
Bloomingdale Playground and P.S. 145 replaced the old P.S. 105 in 1958 when City officials deemed the building substandard. The playground opened on September 12, 1962, under the jurisdiction of the Board of Estimate. In November 1963, the playground was transferred from the Board of Estimate to the joint operation of Parks and the Board of Education. Its facilities originally included a roller skating court, a ball court, swings, seesaws, slides, a comfort station, and a spray shower. In 1989, the playground underwent a comprehensive renovation. The new facilities include a bridge, a climbing structure with a slide, and swing sets. In 1998, the playground’s safety surfacing and play equipment was replaced.
P.S. 145, also called the Bloomingdale School, serves approximately 800 children in pre-kindergarten through fifth grade. Its special programs include a magnet program for gifted and talented children, a dual-language program for students learning in English and Spanish, and dance and choral training. The school also runs after-school parent clubs and workshops, and is involved in outreach programs with many organizations including Grosvenor House, the Jewish Home for the Aged, Lincoln Center, and Columbia University.
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