Van Cortlandt Park

Kelly Fields

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

These fields are named in honor of Frank Kelly (1937-1971), a devoted North Riverdale community leader, whose local contributions extend beyond his unduly short life. An attorney by profession, Kelly founded the North Riverdale Civic Association and was a member of Community Planning Board 14, now Community Board 8. Kelly died of a heart attack on July 2, 1971 at the age of 33, prompting members of various organizations to seek an appropriate memorial to him. Located in the neighborhood that felt his influence the most, Kelly Fields was named by a local law in 1972, and dedicated on May 5, 1973.

Kelly Fields is located in the northwest corner of 1146-acre Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx. The park’s terrain was formed by massive glaciers, under which the land that is New York was buried 20,000 years ago. When the ice receded, it left behind the characteristic sketch of Van Cortlandt Park - steep ridges, smooth hillsides, and open flats. The Wiechquaskeck Lenape Indians occupied the area when, in 1639, the Dutch East India Company brought the first Europeans to settle in the Bronx. In 1646, Dutchman Adriaen Van Der Donck (1620-1655) became the first single owner of what is now Van Cortlandt Park.

The Van Cortlandt name was first associated with the tract of land bounded by the modern Yonkers city line, Broadway, Jerome Avenue, and Van Cortlandt Park East in 1699, when Jacobus Van Cortlandt bought the property. The Van Cortlandt Mansion was built in 1748 by his son, Frederick Van Cortlandt, whose family occupied the land until the 1880s. The City of New York acquired this parkland in 1888, but did not name it in honor of its long-time residents until 1913. With facilities for football, baseball, softball, soccer, cricket, tennis, golf, swimming, horseback riding, running, and hiking constantly improving, the future of New York City’s third largest park looks greener than ever.

In 1994, Council Member June M. Eisland provided $281,254 for a reconstruction of Kelly Fields, which is bounded by Broadway, Mosholu Avenue, West 260th Street, and the Frank Kelly Field Road. Today, the site includes two baseball diamonds with chain link backstops, drinking fountains, bleachers, and benches.

Directions to Van Cortlandt Park

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