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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Lawrence Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This playground honors William Lawrence (1622-1680) the first Englishman to settle on Tues Neck, the small peninsula now known as College Point, Queens.

In 1645, Lawrence purchased 900 of the 17,000 acres of land sold by the Matinecock Native Americans who occupied the region. The village was renamed Lawrence’s Neck after the prominent landowner and became part of the College Point locality, named after St. Paul’s College (founded 1838). Due to its prime East River waterfront location with easy access to Brooklyn, Long Island, and the remainder of Queens, College Point began as an industrial village, hosting silk mills, breweries, and the India Rubber Comb Company. It’s waterfront access and working class populace later made the area a favorable locale for amusement parks, beer halls, and steamboat excursions.

Nearby Lawrence Street, also named after William Lawrence, connects the College Point peninsula with all of Queens, and was renamed College Point Boulevard by Local Law 78 in 1969. A seven-block section of Lawrence Street still remains, extending from the south edge of the playground to Mount Hebron Cemetery. Parks acquired the property on May 25, 1934, as part of a large land transfer from the Brooklyn Ash Removal Company. The newly acquired land became the World’s Fair grounds, and in 1964, it went for the creation of the 1,200 acre Flushing Meadows-Corona Park (FMCP), the second largest New York City park.

Lawrence Playground lies in a narrow corridor of parkland that connects FMCP with the Queens Botanical Gardens and Kissena Park. A footpath leading under the Van Wyck Expressway links the site with the Fountain of the Planets and other FMCP attractions, while a pedestrian overpass spanning College Point Boulevard leads to the nearby Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.

This playground features children’s swings, climbing equipment, and two dolphin-shaped climbing sculptures, all atop safety surfacing, as well as picnic tables, a comfort station, chess and checker tables, and two basketball courts.

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