Playground Thirty Five XXXV
This playground, originally called P.S. 166 Playground after the adjacent school, is today named after nearby 35th Avenue. Running from Ravenswood to Astoria, this roadway cuts through the famous Kaufman-Astoria studios, which have hosted productions from Sesame Street to Scent of a Woman.
Before receiving its current neighborhood moniker, this area of Queens was titled Sunswick, derived from the Algonquin word Sunkisq, meaning “woman chief.” It was also known as Hallet’s Cove in the 18th century until fur merchant Stephen A. Halsey developed the area in 1839 and petitioned the state legislature to name it after the prominent fur trader John Jacob Astor (1763-1848). The local residents agreed to change the name in the hope that Astor would donate money to the village’s young ladies’ seminary. He eventually sent five hundred dollars.
Within a few decades, the area was home to a number of wealthy merchants, a substantial German-American community, and the Steinway piano company. Over the course of the 20th century, construction of homes and apartments, the growth of new industries, and the arrival of numerous immigrants transformed Astoria into the thriving and diverse neighborhood it is today.
Playground Thirty-Five is located at the intersection of 35th Avenue and Steinway Street in Astoria, adjacent to P.S. 166. Despite its original title in honor of the school, many locals referred to the site as Borden Park after the milk company plant across the street. In 1998 Commissioner Stern renamed the playground following the closure of the plant. Parks received surface rights to this playground in June 1940 and has maintained it since its opening in May 1947. The site includes London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia), a jungle gym, swings, and a sand area that is home to a life-size polar bear figure.