George Cromwell Recreation Center
This recreation center honored Staten Island’s first Borough President, George C. Cromwell (1860-1934). Educated at Brooklyn Polytechnic College, Yale University, and Columbia Law School, Cromwell settled in Staten Island in the 1880s.
He served in the New York State Assembly from 1887 to 1889 and became the President of the Richmond County Parks Commission in the 1890s. He was responsible for several crucial pieces of legislation during his tenure, including the Fish and Oyster Protection Bill, and a bill to remove the “Government Cholera Burying Ground.” With the consolidation of the five boroughs in 1898, Cromwell became the first Borough President of Staten Island, serving until 1913. He went on to be the primary developer of the Dongan Hills community, and served in the State Assembly again from 1915 to 1918.
In 1934, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) converted an eleven-year-old pier into a waterside recreation center at a cost of one million dollars. The WPA was a massive public works program, initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) as part of his New Deal that aimed to revive the American economy during the Great Depression (1929-1941). Opened in 1936, the George Cromwell Recreation Center soon came to play a vital role in Staten Island’s sports and recreational activities. President Roosevelt hosted a gala ball there in 1939, and Sugar Ray Robinson fought his last amateur fight there in 1940.
Up until 1974, Parks and the Department of Docks jointly operated the recreation center. Beginning in 1974, Parks agreed to take full responsibility for maintenance, while the successor to the Department of Docks -- the Department of Ports and Terminals -- reserved the right to tie up vessels.
Following the closing of the recreation center in early spring of 2010, portions of the dock and recreation center collapsed on Wednesday, May 26, 2010.