Derived from the Native American word for “The Place of Happy Hearts,” Wayanda references this site’s historic use as a burial ground. This park is one of many throughout the city that once served as potters’ fields. Washington Square Park, Union Square, and J.J. Walker Park all served as cemeteries for paupers, drifters, criminals, and others who were refused burial in “white” cemeteries. A description of Wayanda Park from 1872 said it was “desolate…with no tombstones,” a fact that led later neighborhood residents to appeal for a new park on the site. This request was approved by the Board of Estimate in 1908.
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