Walker Park holds a distinguished place in the history of New York cricket and tennis. Initially known as Livingston Park, the name was changed in 1934 to honor Lieutenant Randolph Walker Jr., who died in World War I. Walker was a distinguished member of the local cricket club, and was a good friend of Eugenius H. Outerbridge (1860-1932), the first chairman of the Port Authority (served 1921-1924). The change was the result of a petition sent to Alderman Dennis V. Corcoran by the officers of the Randolph Walker Post of the American Legion.
This property was once the grounds of the Staten Island Cricket and Tennis Club, founded in 1872 as the Cricket and Baseball Club. Originally established in St. George, the club relocated to this site in 1885. Over the years, it featured international matches with England, Australia, and Ireland. The club hosted Mary Ewing Outerbridge (1852-1886), sister of Eugenius, when she brought the game of lawn tennis from Bermuda in 1879. The game caught on quickly, and the first national tennis tournament, the Davis Cup, was played here in 1880. Many cricket legends have played these grounds, including W.G. Grace (1848-1915), Englishman Colin Blythe (1879-1917), the Indian Prince K. S. Ranjitsinhji XI (1872-1933), and the Australian Sir Donald Bradman (1908-2001).
The Cricket Club grounds were sold to the Staten Island Academy in 1925, and then purchased by the City in 1930 at a cost of $110,000. The property was transferred to Parks in June of 1931, and given the name Livingston Park. It opened in August of that year with tennis courts and playground facilities. A clubhouse with lockers and showers, a refreshment building, and three tool sheds graced the facilities. The clubhouse burned in 1932, and was replaced in 1934 by the Tudor-style structure still standing today. This edifice is made of stone and red brick, with a red slate roof, exposed-brick interior walls, and wooden beams.
The Livingston area’s history dates back to the 1668 plantation of Governor Francis Lovelace (1621-1675). Additional farms were operated in the vicinity by the Cruser, Crocheron, and deGroot families. In 1836, the respected eye surgeon Samuel MacKenzie Elliott bought much of the land along today’s Richmond Terrace and Bard Avenue. For the next 50 years, the area bore the name of Elliottsville. In 1886, when the North Shore Railroad bought the mansion of resident Anson Livingston and opened a station nearby, the growing neighborhood became known as Livingston. From the 1880s until World War I, the neighborhood of Livingston was known for its elegance. Bard Avenue was called the “Fifth Avenue of the Island,” and attracted the well heeled.
Walker Park, located on Delafield Place between Bard and Davis Avenues, still enjoys extensive use by sporting enthusiasts. The large softball field is also used for football and cricket, and the park remains a home to cricket leagues and tournaments. A $196,000 renovation completed in 2001 revitalized the basketball courts and reconstructed the paths and fencing. New swings and play equipment were also added. Walker Park additionally features flagstone walkways, benches, a drinking fountain, and many attractive plantings. These include evergreen trees and shrubs, London plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia) and sweetgums (Liquidambar styraciflua). Hexagonal paving, a red brick and granite wall capped with bluestone, a chain link fence, and a flagpole with yardarm completes the facilities.