William Learned Marcy (1786-1857) was a lawyer, soldier, and statesman who made his mark in both local and national politics.
Marcy was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts. He moved to Troy, New York, and in 1811 opened a law office. Marcy left Troy to serve as a United States captain in the War of 1812, later returning to continue his practice and take up politics. He joined the Democratic Party and served as state comptroller from 1823 until 1829, at which time he was appointed to the state supreme court. Marcy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1831.
Marcy served as governor of New York from 1833 until 1839. During his tenure, he oversaw the construction of the Erie Canal and resolved the boundary dispute with New Jersey. Marcy was secretary of war under President James Knox Polk from 1845 until 1849, guiding the United States through the 1848 Mexican War. In 1853, he accepted his final political post, secretary of state under President Franklin Pierce. He negotiated the Gadsden Purchase, allowing the United States to buy a sizeable territory from Mexico. Marcy died in office on July 4, 1857.
An unnamed park preceded this playground that honors Marcy. It was located a block further north, was one-third the size of Marcy Playground, and held a flagpole with a monumental base dedicated to Samuel V. Crews (1888-1929), a veteran of World War I. His brother John was a Republican leader in Brooklyn and another brother, Robert, was a member of the State Assembly.
In 1945, New York City purchased 28.5 acres of land for the Marcy Houses development. As part of the Marcy Houses design, the existing playground would be relocated. According to the final New York City Housing Authority plan, dated June 26, 1946, 3.2 acres were set aside for a park within the development; the base of the flagpole from the previous park was moved to the new location.
Marcy Playground was reconstructed in 1989, and a half-court and regulation full court were added for basketball. The playground includes benches, game tables, a baseball diamond, spray showers, play equipment with safety surfacing, basketball hoops, swings for tots and children, picnic tables, and the flagpole, with its monumental base and a yardarm.
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