This playground and the adjoining high school honor William Grady who served as the Superintendent of High Schools for the New York City Board of Education in the 1930s. Working from his headquarters on Livingston Street, Grady was a constant advocate for technical studies in schools. Those who admired his commitment and achievements nicknamed him the ‘Father of Vocational Education’ in Brooklyn.
The City acquired the main plot of land for the school and playground in 1906, following the condemnation of the former site of Coney Island Hospital. The property was transferred to the Board of Education in 1942 as the site of a proposed vocational high school. A proposal to acquire several neighboring plots to round out the site was submitted in 1943, and the purchase was completed in February of 1944. The high school, proposed as the South Flatbush Vocational High School, was to serve 2000 boys. It opened in 1950, and currently has about 1800 students. A large plot of extra land was included in the proposal for ‘urgently needed local recreation facilities.’ The playground was opened on November 15, 1957, the 719th in the Parks system.
The original proposal for the playground, which lies on Shore Parkway between Brighton 3rd and Brighton 4th Streets, was amended at the request of the Police Department to allow for the continuance of a Police Remount Station, located in the southeastern corner of the proposed area. The plans for the playground/athletic field included three separate areas. A small area on the eastern end was reserved for toddlers and young children. This included a comfort station, swings, seesaws, slides, and a jungle gym. The western third provided a basketball court, basketball practice stations, and two handball courts. The northern, and largest, part contained a full baseball diamond, bleachers, and track and field facilities. Today, the playground remains much the same in layout, though renovations over the years have added safety surfacing for the play equipment and provided general restoration for the site.
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