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Galapo Playground

Joe Galapo Playground

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

This park honors Police Officer Joe Galapo (1958-1988), a Sheepshead Bay resident who was shot and killed on August 16, 1988 during an arrest attempt.  Growing up in Cairo, Egypt and Paris, France, Galapo always dreamed of becoming a policeman.  After his family settled in Brooklyn, he attended high school and then the Police Academy.  He served on the force for five years, first in Coney Island’s 60th Precinct and later in the Brooklyn South Narcotics Unit.  Galapo’s hard work and dedication during his short career earned him the posthumous rank of Detective.

At the time of his death, Galapo lived just a few blocks from this Sheepshead Bay playground, where his wife and three sons often spent sunny afternoons.  A local law passed in 1989 named the playground, an appropriate tribute to a man who was dedicated to caring for both his own family and the community in which he lived.  In addition to this park, the New York Police Department named a mounted division horse “Galapo” in his memory.

Because of its location, the park was formerly known as Bedford Neck Playground.  “Bedford” could have either an English or Dutch colonial origin.  Many colonial places were named for English nobility that had never even set foot on American soil.  This area might have been named after William, Fifth Earl and First Duke of Bedford (1613-1700,) or for Bedfordshire, a county in England. On the north side of the playground, Gravesend Neck Road predates the grid of streets that were laid out in the early 20th century. The road connected the settlement of Gravesend to a mill located to the east of the village in present-day Marine Park.

The City assigned this land to Parks in 1940, and the playground opened in 1941.  Play equipment designed for both young and older children, benches, and a comfort station have made this park a family favorite.  Joe Galapo Playground underwent renovations in 1997 and 2011, which included new play equipment with safety surfacing, a spray shower, restored handball courts, and replanting in the horticultural areas.  These plantings complimented the London plane trees that have stood here for decades.

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