Playground 52 LII
This playground is named for the advocacy group “52 People for Progress”. First assembled in 1980 under the direction of Al Quinones, the group invested thousands of hours improving their neighborhood park. 52 People for Progress is an early example of an advocacy group that joined forces with Parks to help revitalize and maintain parkland within their community.
The South Bronx neighborhood surrounding Playground 52 has been home to several historic figures. Kelly Street is named for Captain Samuel Kelly, proprietor of a prosperous farm in the 19th century. Major Abraham Leggett, for whom Leggett Street is named, served in the Continental Army during the American Revolution (1776-83). His son, William Leggett, earned popular recognition for his sea stories, such as “Leisure Hours at Sea”, and “Legget’s Naval Stories”. Figures from the 20th century include Sholem Aleichem who developed a substantial following for his Yiddish stories, and the neighborhood was the stomping ground for entertainers Milton Berle and Red Buttons. More recent figures of note from this area include musicians Eddie Palmieri and Sammy Garcia, Reverend Irving Rivera of Fordham Manor Church, Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
Bound by Leggett Avenue, Kelly Street, and St. John’s Avenue, the site was first acquired by the City on February 14, 1958 to be used as a school playground for P.S. 52. On October 17, 1986, jurisdiction of the site was transferred to Parks. A park heavily used by neighborhood children, many concerned parents felt that the playground equipment was too old. 52 People for Progress was formed out of these concerns, and in 1989 the playground underwent renovations. City Council Member David Rosado allocated $1 million in city funds towards the completion of the project. The renovation included the installation of rainbow play equipment, safety surfacing, an amphitheater, handball courts, spray showers, drinking fountains, and game tables. The play equipment included figures of turtles and frogs. In addition, an adjacent parcel of land was purchased so that basketball courts could be added to the playground. On November 3, 1990 the playground was rededicated by Parks and members of 52 People for Progress.
The P.S. 52 success story serves as an inspiration to all communities who feel strongly about the preservation of their neighborhood parks.