Dutch Kills Playground
Dutch Kills Playground
Dutch Kills Playground shares its name with the adjacent school and the neighborhood in northwestern Queens. "Kill" is a Dutch word which means "little stream," and the area takes its name from the 1643 Dutch settlement near the "kill" that flowed south to Newtown Creek. A small village surrounded by outlying farms developed here during the 17th and 18th centuries. Urban development and industrialization caught up with the rural hamlet in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Long Island Rail Road arrived in 1861, and several factories began business in the area. Dutch Kills joined Astoria Village, Hunter’s Point, Ravenswood, Middletown, and Blissville (now Sunnyside) to form Long Island City in 1870. The Queensboro Bridge, opened in 1909, directly linked the community to Manhattan.
Parks acquired this land as a site for a new playground in 1946. Plans had been drawn up for the new property in 1945, but construction was delayed. The City later decided to use the site for both a new school building and playground. P.S. 112, the Dutch Kills School, welcomed its first pupils in 1952, and the playground opened to the public in 1954. The playground was called Crescent Street Playground for the street to its west, and later became Dutch Kills Playground to honor the neighborhood.
Operated jointly by the Board of Education and Parks, the playground featured recreational facilities for all age groups, from children to older adults. One area, intended for toddlers and their guardians, included a sandpit, kindergarten swings and slides, seesaws, wading pool, and a comfort station. The area immediately adjacent to the school had shuffleboard, paddle tennis, and basketball courts, as well as a softball diamond. The center of the playground featured climbing equipment, large swings, playground slides, boccie and handball courts, and a sitting area.
Between 1995 and 1998 Council Member Walter McCaffrey funded four major capital projects for $1,859,000 to improve the area. The asphalt ballfield was renovated in 1995-97; a roller rink was built in 1996-97; and the playground underwent an overall reconstruction in 1997-98. The improvement of baseball backstops, sidewalks, and fencing is to begin in the summer of 1998.
Recent improvements to the playground include the installation of new play equipment, swings, benches, game tables, bicycle rack, drinking fountain, accessible stairs, paving, curbs, trees, and shrubs as well as the reconstruction of the drainage and water supply systems. The playground features a Dutch decorative theme that honors the European colonists that settled in New York (then New Amsterdam) in the 17th century. A windmill-shaped spray shower, painted murals of Dutch river scenes, a colored concrete map of New York City, and eight medallions depicting plants and native wildlife are all part of the design of Dutch Kills Playground.