Kissena Corridor Park

Underhill Playground

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

This playground is part of a series of open spaces acquired as Kissena Corridor Park in 1947. The park addition of 45.6 acres consisted of two linear strips of land, linking Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with Kissena Park, and Kissena Park with Cunningham Park. This succession of greenswards was part of an overall plan by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses to develop an "emerald necklace" in the growing borough of Queens. The present name of the park "Kissena," means "it is cold" in the language of the Chippewa Indians. The playground was named for the adjacent avenue, which had been named for Captain John Underhill, one of the first settlers of Long Island.

The opportunity for the City to create Kissena Corridor Park arose through the construction of a large storm sewer which necessitated a public right of way. The areas now comprising the corridor park were partially filled by the Department of Sanitation’s landfill program, but it was the Department of Parks that improved the corridor by building ball fields, walkways, a bicycle path, landscaping, and several playgrounds, including this one.

Underhill Playground was opened by Commissioner Moses on June 16, 1953, during the term of Mayor Vincent R. Impelliteri. It was designed to accommodate children of all ages, and included a kindergarten area, wading pool, and sandpit, as well as basketball, handball and shuffleboard courts, and horseshoe pits. The original playground was viewed as an important neighborhood improvement, serving as a public amenity and raising surrounding property values. It was the 589th playground built in the citywide park system in the Moses era.

The playground was reconstructed in 1997 through a $764,000 capital project funded by Councilmember Julia Harrison. The new design was based on the Russian folk tale of Wasalisa, the story of a young girl’s rite of passage. Improvements included the creation of three play areas, and the installation of decorative fencing and safety surfacing. The new design includes three stone horses as play features, a spray shower, and a reconstructed flagpole with a yardarm.

Directions to Kissena Corridor Park

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