Astoria Heights Playground

Astoria Heights Playground

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

This park was acquired by the City in 1936 as part of the construction of the neighboring Horace Greeley Middle School I.S. 10. At the time, the block contained four homes and an unpaved roadway that bisected the block, predating the surrounding street grid that was laid out in 1910.

In the Depression era of the 1930s, federal aid through the Works Progress Administration enabled the city to expand and improve its play spaces. Under the stewardship of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981), new playgrounds were constructed at an astonishing rate throughout the decade. Moses was able to harness the massive manpower of the Parks Department, whose ranks had swollen to more than 80,000 workers. When Moses took over in 1934, there were only 119 playgrounds in New York City. By 1960, there were 777.

Astoria was formerly known by the Algonquian name of Sunswick, derived from the word Sunkisq, meaning “woman chief”. In 1839, developer Stephen A. Halsey incorporated the village of Astoria, named in honor of fur trader and landowner John Jacob Astor (1763-1848). Within a few decades, the area was home to a number of wealthy merchants, a substantial German American community, and the Steinway piano company. Over the course of the 20th century, construction of homes and apartments, the growth of new industries, and the expansion of public transportation options brought in newer immigrant communities from Greece and the Middle East, contributing to the cultural diversity of the neighborhood.

This site is part of Parks' Community Parks Initiative—a multi-faceted program launched in 2014 to invest in under-resourced public parks and increase the accessibility and quality of parks throughout the five boroughs. In 2018, new play equipment, open lawn and sitting area were installed, and an asphalt field was refurbished into an active space for sports. This improved park offers a variety of activities for people of all ages.

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