Nicholas A. Brizzi Playground
Nicholas A. Brizzi (1918-1982) was an outstanding activist in this community and a decorated veteran of World War II. Born and raised in Borough Park, he served in the U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theatre and was twice cited for bravery. After the war, he attended Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and then returned to Borough Park. He joined the family business, eventually becoming owner and operator of the Joseph A. Brizzi and Sons Funeral Home, which his father had founded in 1922. He was an active member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, he served as a member of the Maimonides Ambulatory Advisory Board and the Maimonides Mental Health Board, and was also on the steering committee for the St. Rosa Cancer Care Facility. Brizzi also served as a trustee of St. Catharine of Alexandria Parish, where he was a member of the Holy Name Society.
During Brizzi's lifetime, Borough Park underwent major changes as its population increased dramatically. New methods of transportation, including the elevation of the New Utrecht trains after World War I and the completion of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in the 1950s, led many immigrants to relocate from Lower Manhattan to Brooklyn. Brizzi became a trustee of the Flower of Borough Park, an organization comprised of local businessmen who donated funds to aid immigrants settling in the neighborhood; Brizzi’s father Joseph was an original trustee. The only requirement for aid was the desire to be American. Whether an immigrant needed money for school or medicine, the Flower of Borough Park would assist. Many of the immigrants who were helped by the Flower of Borough Park became successful and in turn helped to fund the organization. Brizzi was also one of the founding members of the Council of Neighborhood Organizations, and established a fund through the Brizzi Funeral Home for needy individuals or families in order to reduce funeral costs and ensure proper burials.
This parcel, formerly named the 43rd St. Playground, is bounded by 42nd and 43rd Streets and 10th & New Utrecht Avenues. It was acquired through condemnation and assigned to Parks for playground purposes in 1938. The playground was designed and constructed the same year by the Works Progress Administration, a massive public works program initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) which eventually built 850 airports, 120,000 bridges, 125,000 public buildings, and 8,000 parks throughout the country.
The playground was renamed for Nicholas Brizzi by local law in 1988. In 1994, playground renovations funded by the borough president included such new play equipment as wooden bridges, hanging ropes, and chin-up bars, as well as concrete game tables, wood and steel benches, adult fitness equipment, ramps for universal access, steel panel gates and fences, and a boccie court. Today, the playground serves both as a place of rest and recreation for people of all ages, and a memorial to a dedicated community leader.