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Gen. Douglas MacArthur Park

General Douglas Macarthur Park

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

Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) established himself as a key figure in American military history in a career that spanned four wars in five decades. MacArthur graduated from West Point in 1903 and went on to emulate the success of his father Arthur MacArthur, a decorated general. Though he would earn his reputation serving on the Asian front, MacArthur began his career fighting in the Spanish-American War, where he reputedly killed seven enemy soldiers singlehandedly. He also commanded the Rainbow Division in France during World War I. MacArthur became the youngest ever chief of staff for the United States Army in 1930 and subsequently served as military advisor to the Philippine government from 1935-1941.

MacArthur’s expertise in East Asian affairs was recognized in World War II with a succession of appointments in the region. He rose to the rank of supreme commander of the Allied forces and, in this capacity, MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on September 2, 1945. As Japan’s military governor (1945-1950), he helped facilitate its transition to democracy.

The Korean War was the setting for MacArthur’s final military role as United Nations commander-in-chief. Though MacArthur was publicly lauded for the bravery and daring initiative he demonstrated throughout his career, his approach also led to conflicts with policy makers. MacArthur’s advocacy of an invasion of China, despite the administration’s opposition to such action, led to his dismissal by President Truman in 1951. MacArthur ran unsuccessfully for the Republican Presidential nomination in 1952. After retiring from the military, he served as Chairman of the Board of Remington Rand, Inc. and resided in the Waldorf Towers for a number of years.

General Douglas MacArthur Park opened in April 1951 in honor of the heroic World War II general. It was developed as part of the General Charles W. Berry Houses public housing project by the Housing Authority who then ceded it to the Parks Department. This multi-site park includes the Berry Fields’ baseball and softball diamonds whose lighting makes them as popular for night games as for day games. At the time of its completion, MacArthur Park was the 540th playground built in New York City. As of July 1996 there were a total of 930 playgrounds in the five boroughs.

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