Vincent F. Albano Jr. Playground
N/s E. 29 St., W/s 2 Ave.
Directions via Google Maps
Mary Collins Playscape
This play area honors a devoted community activist, Mary Collins (1937-1997). Active in community and church affairs, Collins served on Community Board 6 and the 13th Precinct Community Council. She directed her efforts into improving conditions in this neighborhood, specifically Albano Playground. She also spoke out to politicians and police in the attempt clear Lexington Avenue of prostitution. As co-founder of the Lower East Twenties Society (LETS), she spearheaded the "Take Back Albano Park" initiative in 1996. LETS and the 13th Precinct Community Council donated funds for a Playground Associate to facilitate recreational and arts and crafts programs at the park. This new position was commissioned to bring parents and children to the park, reclaiming the space that had become the province of loiterers.
In 1966 the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority (now part of the MTA) extended a permit for Parks to operate the .346-acre parcel that now serves as Vincent Albano Playground and contributed $25,000 towards its development. The playground was designed by noted architect M. Paul Friedberg in the late 1960s. In its early years, the playground was informally known as Nathan Straus Playground for the distinguished department store magnate and philanthropist.
In 1989, community members celebrated the refurbishing and Council Member Carol Greitzer's official naming of this site for Vincent Albano (1914-1981), a local politician whose efforts were instrumental in saving the land from construction. The $722,000 capital restoration provided a handicapped accessible play area for both children and adults along with new game tables and benches. The new design introduced brick herringbone paving, raised granite curbs, a granite information kiosk, and an ornamental steel panel fence with bronzed ginkgo and oak leaf castings
This site was substantially upgraded in 1998, as a result of a grant from the City Parks Foundation and a $61,000 fund from Mayor Giuliani. It was part of improvements that included the play equipment, safety surfacing, handball courts, and pavements. Like the work of its namesake, Mary Collins, this playground continues to provide the play space required for healthy living in a healthy community.