Washington Square Park
The Daily Plant : Tuesday, February 19, 2002
MANHATTAN IN 2001
Covering the island in green and spreading daffodils throughout are all in a year’s work for Manhattan Parks. 2001 saw a great many parks rendered more aesthetically pleasing, reconstructed to conform to their historical incarnations, or simply made more visitor-friendly. Manhattan begins 2002 greener and more vibrant than before.
Renovations to Manhattan parks started with a splash in the spring with $12 million of renovations to Madison Square Park. Public and private funding aided Parks in restoring it to its original design and adding more modern additions. Other similar projects were Harlem’s Hooper Fountain and Donellan Square, Recreation Center 54, the East River Park Amphitheater and the approval funds to rehabilitate the arch in Washington Square Park.
Manhattan parks have traditionally been a safe place for New York City children to play. Keeping with this spirit, many playgrounds were constructed and renovated and several major ballfields were covered with artificial turf. Generous City Council Members helped to revive Manhattan’s playgrounds, with major work and renovations done to the Courtney Callender, Happy Warrior and Seward Park Playgrounds. Projects yet to be completed in the coming weeks are at St.Vartan’s Park, Madison Square Park and McCaffrey Park Playgrounds.
There were also several high profile projects in Manhattan last year, including the Daffodil Project, the East River Park "Challenge America," and the reopening of the Battery Park Promenade. In response to the tragic events of September 11, we planted over one million daffodils around the city. Many New Yorkers and Parks employees volunteered their time to ensure that parks would be awash with yellow and golden daffodils in 2002 and to spread warmth throughout the city. After September 11, Battery Park served as a rest area for hundreds of police officers and firefighters. In early December, Mayor Giuliani and other city officials joined Commissioner Stern in Battery Park to unveil the improvements and to celebrate its re-opening. The East River Park’s derelict Amphitheater was restored to its former glory and the soccer field was also equipped with artificial turf to allow for year round play on a formerly notorious mud puddle.
In addition to the innumerable physical renovations and re-constructions, Manhattan recreation centers gave thousands of children safe places to have fun. The "Learn to Play" program offers lessons in soccer, lacrosse, basketball, and softball. A highlight of this year’s recreation center programs is the basketball camp held in August at the Alfred E. Smith Recreation Center. The camp taught participants about the leadership and mentoring aspects of the sport while exposing them to professional coaches and sports reporters. Manhattan’s recreation program worked in conjunction with Partnerships for Parks to enlist hundreds of volunteers from the Junior League’s Playground Improvement Project to help paint, update, and rehabilitate parts of the Thomas Jefferson Recreation Center.
The Manhattan Borough Office and Field Workers worked hard in 2001 to make Manhattan parks more aesthetically pleasing, as well as safer and more practical. This work has led to a smooth entrance into 2002 as we prepare for another successful year in Manhattan parks.
By Francesca Bertolini
THIRTEEN YEARS AGO IN THE PLANT
(Tuesday, February 28, 1989)
PARKS OPEN ITS FIRST FITNESS CENTER
New Yorkers will no longer have to pay hundreds of dollars to join health clubs in order to keep fit. Last Thursday at Highbridge Park in Upper Manhattan, Parks unveiled the first City-owned, free fitness center equipped with the latest in exercise machines.
Commissioner Stern was joined at the ceremony by City Council Member Stanley E. Michels and Fitness Specialist Dr. Jane Katz. The equipment was purchased with Parks’ receipts from the New York City Marathon.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible."