The names of many of our City’s parks and playgrounds honor worthy people from our past—from towering political figures to slain police officers to local civic leaders. All parks have signs marking their name, but many parks also have historical signs. The purpose of the historical signs program is to place historical identification markers which describe the history of the site, park improvements, and the biography of the person for whom the park is named. Significant features such as monuments, design elements, and plantings are described, as well as neighborhood characteristics.
The idea for historical signs originated with Commissioner Henry J. Stern, and the program is administered by the Commissioner’s Staff and the Art & Antiquities division. In March of 1996, Commodore Barry Park in Brooklyn became the first location to receive a historical sign, followed by an initial group of 50 sites. Today, historical signs offer virtual and physical context to parks, playgrounds, monuments, and landmarks across the city. Thanks to historical signs, no one will have to wonder who the "Amiable Child" was, what Alice Austen did, or how Van Cortlandt Park got its name.