Forest Park

Mary Whalen Playground

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

This playground commemorates Mary Whalen (1917-1987), a local resident who was dedicated to her community. Born on August 12, 1917, in Brooklyn to Michael Joyce and Nora Monahan, she attended John Adams High School and married Peter J. Whalen. Over her lifetime, Whalen participated in many community organizations such as the Woodhaven Women’s Democratic Club, the Woodhaven Senior Center, the Ladies Auxiliary of the American Legion Post 118, the Catholic Veterans Group, and the Supreme Council of the Columbiettes. At the time when the Kiwanis only allowed male membership, Whalen was an invited guest, attending meetings with her husband.

Whalen served as the vice-president of Community Board 9 and president of the Woodhaven Block Association. She also was the founder and first president of the Greater Woodhaven Development Corporation. Residing one block from this playground, Whalen led clean-ups and spent time here with her four children and six grandchildren. When she died on February 15, 1987, this playground did not have a name. Council Member Arthur Katzman introduced a local law in 1988 to name it in her honor, and the playground was formally dedicated on September 26, 1990.

Forest Park is one of the natural treasures of New York City. The Wisconsin glacier molded the land 20,000 years ago, creating a series of small hills, known as “knob and kettle terrain,” within Forest Park. The Brooklyn Parks Department sought to create a public park and purchased the first parcel on August 9, 1895, with parcel acquisition continuing until 1898. The parkland was originally known as Brooklyn Forest Park, and was incorporated into Greater New York with Consolidation in 1898. At that time the Brooklyn Parks Department managed parklands in what is now all of Queens and Brooklyn. It was not until 1911 that an independent Queens Parks Department was established for the borough.

Forest Park today offers a wide array of recreational facilities, such as a golf course, George Seuffert, Sr., Bandshell, the Bridal Path, tennis courts, playgrounds, and Victory Field. Mary Whalen Playground was reconstructed in 1986 and included a comfort station which was later demolished. The playground holds swings for tots and kids, drinking fountains, benches, play equipment with safety surfacing, and slides.

Directions to Forest Park

Was this information helpful?