St. Gregory's Playground
St. Gregory's Park
This park takes its name from St. Gregory’s Parish, founded in 1907. St. Gregory I (540-604), the church’s patron saint, was Pope of the Roman Catholic Church from the year 590 until his death, and is best remembered for introducing Gregorian chant. The school (est. 1912) offers instruction from pre-kindergarten to eighth grade and occupies two floors above the chapel in the church parish. The fourth floor houses the rectory. The baseball legend Babe Ruth (1895-1948) was married in the rectory on April 17, 1929.
St. Gregory’s Park lies on West 90th Street, nestled between the West Side Community Garden and St Gregory’s Church. The property faces the Stephen Wise Houses. Stephen S. Wise (1874-1949), a Jewish Hungarian immigrant, first became well known in 1929 for his efforts to reform Mayor James J. Walker’s (1881-1946, mayor 1926-32) shady administration. Beginning in 1938, he helped lead the Zionist movement in the United States, and is considered one of the county’s greatest Jewish leaders of the period between the wars.
Until 1993, St. Gregory’s Park was the site of a demolished tenement and a neighborhood dumping ground. On May 27, 1993, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) acquired the land and allowed the Open Space Greening Program to begin construction of a park. Open Space is a subdivision of the Council on the Environment of New York City, a citizens’ organization in the Mayor’s Office that was founded in 1970 to promote environmental awareness and find solutions to environmental problems. St. Gregory’s School, which had shown an interest in the property, agreed to maintain the park in return for Open Space’s services in constructing the playground.
The HPD transferred the property to Parks on November 24, 1997. Although the property is maintained by Parks, it still serves as a playground for St. Gregory’s School, and the school’s janitorial staff helps tend the space. The site contains a basketball court and play equipment with safety surfacing. Benches provide a place to sit, and trees provide shade.