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Mary O'Connor Playground

Mary O'Connor Playground

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

Mary O'Connor (1911-1991) was a well-known community activist and resident of Tudor City. The preservation of Tudor City Parks from commercial development was one of O'Connor's principal concerns in a life devoted to her neighborhood. She held a seat in Community Board Six for fifteen years and served one term (1983-1984) as chairwoman. Ever vigilant against commercial development, O’Connor was active in the successful campaign to win Landmark Designation for Tudor City.

Tudor City, which lies between Turtle Bay to the north and Murray Hill to the south, was named for the Tudor City apartment and hotel complexes -- so named to evoke the majesty of England’s Tudor Dynasty -- that were erected between 1925 and 1928. The Mary O’Connor Playground was built in 1950 as a sister site to the Tudor Grove Playground opposite it on the south side of East 42nd Street. Both playgrounds were condemned properties transferred to Parks in 1948. The year of the playgrounds' completion coincided with the United Nations' relocation to the East Side, ensuring that a large and diverse body of both tourists and Tudor City residents would frequent local attractions such as the two playgrounds.

This site was called Tudor City North Playground from its dedication in July 1950 until November 1991, when Community Board Six unanimously passed a resolution to rename the playground in honor of O'Connor. In 1993, Parks redesigned the playground. Among the improvements introduced by the renovation were the reconstruction of the brick wall around the property’s perimeter, the addition of bluestone pavement, and the installation of strip benches and a new play structure. It was rededicated in 1995 and has remained a cherished public space in the Tudor City neighborhood.

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