Hunts Point Playground
Hunts Point Playground
Hunts Point playground, located in the neighborhood of the same name in the southwest Bronx, is named for Thomas Hunt, one of the first settlers to occupy the area in the 1670s. One can easily observe the point, protruding out into the East River, on any map of the Bronx. In 1874, New York City, which at the time included only Manhattan, began to annex sections of the Bronx. Hunts Point, originally part of West Farms in what was then lower Westchester County, became the newest part of New York City. The area underwent significant growth and development after the IRT subway line to Manhattan was built in 1904. Hunts Point is famous for the Hunts Point Terminal Market, the largest produce market in the United States.
Hunts Point is an area rich in history. Legend has it that George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the Society of Friends (commonly known as Quakers), preached in the area in 1672. William H. Fox, a descendant of the Quaker leader, and his wife Charlotte Leggett, owned much of the land that is now Hunts Point. Later, the property wound up in the hands of their son-in-law, H.D. Tiffany, a member of the family that owned the famous jewelry and decorative arts store now on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Fox and Tiffany Streets derive their names from the former landowners. In 1909, the Fox mansion was demolished. The Hunts Point Terminal Market now stands on the peninsula that was part of the family’s estate.
Hunts Point Playground was originally known as Spofford Playground, named for one of the park’s bounding avenues. The City of New York acquired the property in 1929 and 1930 in four different parcels of land. Originally, the site was to be used by the Board of Education as a playground for Public School 48, but in 1935, Parks developed the land for use as both a public school and a neighborhood playground. The Board of Education and Parks have joint control over the land.
The original playground was built in 1954. The park was fully restored in 1986 with a design by the architectural firm Blumberg & Butter at a cost of approximately $707,000. Wood and concrete benches and concrete slabs were removed as part of the renovation. New pavement, handball walls, and a drainage system were installed, along with new chain link and rail fencing, benches, modern modular playground equipment, basketball backstops, and safety surfacing. Forty new trees, including Callery pears, Norway maples, and Crimean lindens, were planted throughout the park.
In the late 1990s, Mayor Giuliani allocated more than $100,000 to renovate the park. New asphalt was installed in December 1997, and a new medium tot play unit, multi-colored play equipment, and safety surfacing were added in February 1998.