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Official Website of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation

Jesse Owens Playground

Lafayette Ave. bet. Stuyvesant Ave. and Malcom X Blvd.


Directions via Google Maps

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Jesse Owens (1913-1980) was one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century. Born James Cleveland Owens on September 12, 1913 in Oakville, Alabama, and he changed his name when a grade school teacher mistook his initials “J.C.” for the name “Jesse.” The youngest child of sharecroppers, Owens and his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1922, part of the massive African-American exodus from the rural South. Under the guidance of Charles Riley, a junior high school teacher, Owens developed his athletic talents and took them to Cleveland East Tech High School. He was unbeatable at Cleveland East, but he was more than a high school star. He tied a world record in 1933, running a 9.4-second 100-yard dash at the National High School Championships. Jesse Owens had drawn the attention of a nation, and it would never leave him for the rest of his life.

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Pop Up Aquarium!

Join NYC Parks and the NY Aquarium for a Pop Up Aquarium experience in your neighborhood park!  Open for all ages!

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