Anibal Aviles Playground

Anibal Aviles Playground

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

What was here before?

In the mid-19th century, this area was occupied by squatters and shantytowns, but construction of Central Park beginning in 1859, cleared away the temporary dwellings. In the late 1870s, several asylums for the elderly and the disadvantaged were built here. The neighborhood was the original home of the New York Cancer Hospital, now the world-renowned Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center on the Upper East Side.

How did this site become a playground?

The City acquired this property on March 8, 1943 by condemnation. The property was given to the Board of Education (now the Department of Education) for the building of J.H.S. 54 in 1948. The adjacent property, a jointly-operated playground, was acquired by NYC Parks on July 20, 1950, and in 1969 was named for named for Anibal Aviles.

Who is this playground named for?

This playground honors the memory of Anibal Aviles (1947-1966), a gifted athlete who attended nearby J.H.S. 54, where he captained both the basketball and track teams. Raised on West 109th Street, Aviles belonged to a local Catholic Youth Organization and participated in other organized athletic programs in the neighborhood. He left school to enlist in the United States Marine Corps and fight in the Vietnam War. His brief life ended on March 5, 1966 when he was killed in action. 

Park Information

Directions to Anibal Aviles Playground

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