Van Cortlandt Park

Van Cortlandt Stadium

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

Located along Broadway and West 242 Street, Van Cortlandt Stadium takes its name from the Van Cortlandt Family who occupied the land from 1699 to 1888. The Weckquasgeek Lenape Native American tribe lived on this site in 1639 when the Dutch East India Company brought the first European settlers to the Bronx. In 1646, Dutchman Adriaen Van Der Donck (1620-1655) owned the land that is now Van Cortlandt Park. Jacobus Van Cortlandt bought the tract of land bounded by modern Yonkers City Line between Broadway, Jerome Avenue, and Van Cortlandt Park East in 1699 and his son Frederick built the Van Cortlandt Mansion in 1748. The family lived on the property until the 1888. The City of New York acquired this parkland that year but it did not name it in honor of its long-time residents until 1913.

The land around Van Cortlandt Stadium, as well as the adjacent Kingsbridge Green and Southwest Playground, was originally a freshwater marsh. Tibbett’s Brook, which runs south from Westchester to Van Cortlandt Lake, is one of the last remnants of the former marsh. Originally called Moshulu by an Algonquin Native American tribe that lived on the current Parade Ground site, Tibbett’s Brook gets its current name from George Tibbett, owner of land in Riverdale and Van Cortlandt Park in 1668. The freshwater wetland was shaped by the construction of the Van Cortlandt Golf Course in 1894, the Henry Hudson Parkway in 1936, the Van Cortlandt Stadium in 1939, and the Major Deegan Expressway in 1956.

Constructed by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), the 3,000-seat Van Cortlandt Stadium opened on September 22, 1939. New York City, under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) and Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia (1882-1947), was able to secure substantial WPA funding.  Building parks was one of the many projects undertaken by the WPA, a massive program initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as a component of the New Deal.  Mayor La Guardia and Parks Commissioner Moses conducted the opening ceremonies with track events and an exhibition football game between Manhattan College and Fordham University. 

The stadium also held tennis courts, handball courts, baseball diamonds, horseshoe pitching courts, a bowling green, drinking fountains and lockers. In 1994, the stadium’s deteriorated concrete was repaired. The quarter-mile running track was reconstructed in 1998 and a synthetic turf infield was installed in 2009. Today, Van Cortlandt Stadium still serves the community as a vital recreational facility. 

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

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