One of the oldest parks in the section of Riverdale known as Fieldston, this property was acquired by the City through condemnation on December 30, 1882. The parkland remained nameless until March 29, 1940, when Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947) designated it Brust Square in honor of Corporal Charles Brust, a soldier who died in combat during World War I. (Commissioner Stern renamed the parkland Brust Park in 1997.) Though Corporal Brust was not a resident of this Riverdale neighborhood, he did live on Hull Avenue in the Bronx when word came that he was going overseas to fight for his country in the 105th Infantry. Corporal Brust was killed on August 30, 1918.
The neighborhood of Fieldston was once a 250-acre estate purchased in 1829 by Major Joseph Delafield, who named it after his family seat in England. The Bronx neighborhood is famous for being the home of many private schools, including Horace Mann Preparatory School, Riverdale Country Day School and nearby Fieldston School.
Brust Park was designed to fill the space bounded by West 242nd Street, Fieldston Road, and what was then Spuyten Duyvil Parkway, neighboring the Methodist Episcopal Church Home. The first Methodist congregation in New York City was founded in 1766 by two Irish immigrant cousins, Barbara Ruckle and Philip Embury. In the years leading up to the American Revolution, New York City became a major center for American Methodists, serving as a second home for such famous missionaries to the colonies as Richard Boardman, Joseph Pilmoor and Francis Asbury. Methodism grew in popularity during the 19th century, and many of the Bronx’s first churches were Methodist.
Adjacent to the park is Manhattan College, a private liberal arts school founded in 1853 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Originally named the Academy of the Holy Infancy, the school moved from its original site at 131st Street and Broadway in Manhattan to the Bronx in 1923 and expanded its curriculum to include schools of engineering, business, and education. Today, Brust Park is often used by Manhattan College students seeking refuge from their studies in the shade of the more than 15 types of trees found in the park. On March 15, 1953, Spuyten Duyvil Parkway was renamed Manhattan College Parkway in honor of the school’s centennial anniversary.
Both Brust Park and its neighboring streets have gone through many changes during the second half of the 20th century. The park increased in size in 1951 when Dash Place, a minor road dividing the park, was eliminated and the land was incorporated into parkland. A major reorganization in 1964 eliminated Fieldston Road between West 238th Street and West 242nd Street, as well as the section of West 242nd Street that lies between Fieldston Road and Greystone Avenue. In 1998, City Council Member June M. Eisland authorized $63,681 in renovations to Brust Park, which included adding a medium tot play unit and multi-colored play equipment featuring safety surfacing.