Locust Manor Playground
Locust Manor Playground
This playground, which opened in 1954, serves the students at the adjoining P.S. 15 and the residents of Springfield Gardens. Named after the nearby Long Island Rail Road station, Locust Manor first appeared as a name of a local development project in 1906.
Springfield Gardens was formerly known as “Spring Fields” because of its many ponds and creeks. The landscape attracted Dutch settlers who first arrived in the 1640s. By 1700 Spring Fields was a small farming community or hamlet, with a scattering of houses and dirt roads. The settlers drew fresh water from the nearby water sources, creating an irrigation system to supply water for crops. Later this water supply was incorporated into larger systems that supplied various parts of the county, until the ponds became polluted. In the mid-1800s all of southeastern Queens amounted to about 2,000 residents, while individual towns like Flushing and Jamaica had populations above 4,000. The landscape of Queens was for the most part agricultural well into the 20th century, and basic municipal services for the borough like a public water supply were not established until after consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898.
In the early 1900s, the Long Island Rail Road built a station here, leading to real estate developments and an infusion of community services in Spring Fields. By 1924, Spring Fields’s population had reached over 5,000 people, living in about 1,200 single-family homes. Additional streets and houses were built during the 1920s and 1930s, causing the population to increase to approximately 15,000 by the late 1930s. Many of these new residents were Brooklynites. The Post Office renamed the area “Springfield Gardens” in 1927, and the Long Island Rail Road renamed their station accordingly shortly thereafter.
Located on 192nd Street just south of 121st Avenue, Locust Manor Playground opened in May 1954, during the latter part of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses' (1888-1981) tenure. Moses succeeded in building new playgrounds throughout the city at an astonishing rate. When he began as Parks Commissioner in 1934, there were 119 playgrounds in New York City. In 1960, when Moses retired from office, there were 777. Locust Manor Playground was the 604th playground in the Parks system.
Jointly operated by Parks and the Department of Education, Locust Manor Playground was originally known as P.S. 15 Playground until Parks renamed it in 1985, referencing the local railroad station. In 2002, the playground was renovated with mayoral funds. Today the site features a full basketball court and two handball courts, a children’s play area with play equipment, a spray shower and a comfort station, swings and checker tables.