Fresh Meadows Park
Fresh Meadows Park
This park takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood. Fresh Meadows was previously known as Black Stump, for the rows of blackened stumps that marked the boundaries of the area’s many farms. Black Stump Road, now 73rd Avenue, was one of two roads that ran through Fresh Meadows during colonial times.
Fresh Meadows Golf Course, created by Benjamin C. Ribman, a Brooklyn resident, opened in 1923 and hosted the 1932 United States Open. The golf course, located near the intersection of 188th Street and Horace Harding Boulevard, was sold to the New York Life Insurance Company on April 1, 1946 for the construction of a residential community. The development, completed in 1949, was dubbed a “model urban community” and was praised by the urban historian Lewis Mumford as “perhaps the most positive and exhilarating example of community planning in the country.” In addition to both single-family and high-rise buildings, New York Life built a shopping center, a theater, and schools on the 141-acre property.
The development was sold in 1972 to Harry B. Helmsley for $53 million, after which a battle began over further development and the use of its open space. A settlement was reached in 1982 and today, the neighborhood’s 6,100 private homes and 7,750 rental units are home to 35,000 residents.
The City acquired the land for Fresh Meadows Park in three stages. The first portion of land was acquired by condemnation on May 2, 1947, the second by a local law passed on July 22, 1948 that freed up land formerly used for North Hempstead Turnpike. A donation from the New York Life Insurance Company to the City on January 15, 1948, extended the park to its current dimensions.
In 1995 Mayor Giuliani funded a $60,000 renovation of Fresh Meadows Park, which repaired paved areas and improved other sites. Today the park’s many trees create shade along Horace Harding Boulevard, and benches provide a pleasant place for pedestrians to sit and rest.