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Morningside Park

The Daily Plant : Monday, September 17, 2007

Breaking Ground On Morningside Park’s Playground


Photo by Daniel Avila

Commissioner Adrian Benepe was joined by City Council Member Inez Dickens, State Senator Bill Perkins, Community Board 9 Chair Jordi Reyes-Mont Blanc, Friends of Morningside Park President Brad Taylor and Columbia University President Lee Bollinger on August 30 to break ground on renovations to the Morningside Park Playground at West 116th Street.

"Morningside Park is one of the great works of Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and thanks to our cooperation with local elected officials and citizen activists, the Park is experiencing a renaissance," said Commissioner Benepe. "With generous funds from Council Member Dickens and Senator Perkins, and with the input of community groups such as the Friends of Morningside Park, consulting with Parks Designer Alex Hart, we are renovating the playground at West 116th Street and constructing an accessible ramp. What was once a drab concrete area will be transformed into a vibrant play space surrounded by open lawns and trees."

Funded by allocations of $1.4 million from Council Member Dickens and $1 million from State Senator Perkins, while he was a member of the City Council, the reconstructed playground will offer universal access to modern play equipment and a restored spray shower. The southern portion of the elevated concrete deck will be completely removed and restored to a state similar to the original Olmsted & Vaux plan, with open lawns and trees.

A ramp is also being constructed at West 116th Street that will provide universal access to this new playground for the disabled and for parents using strollers.

Morningside Park was constructed in the late 19th century, with its name derived from its eastern side where the sun rises each morning. Its design evolved in the 20th century and in the early 1950s, a large concrete slab was imposed on the naturalized lawn between West 116th and 119th Streets. Intended to serve as a platform for a wide variety of recreation needs, it deteriorated over time and became known in the community as "the aircraft carrier."

This project removes much of the concrete deck and, by incorporating the play area within a greener environment, it restores Olmsted and Vaux's vision of the park.

The reconstruction of the playground was designed by Alex Hart, with a great deal of community input from the Friends of Morningside Park. Work is anticipated to be complete by June 2008.

QUOTATION FOR THE DAY

"Hindsight is always twenty-twenty."

Billy Wilder

(1906 – 2002)

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