Baruch Playground

The Daily Plant : Friday, October 4, 2002


Photograph by Malcolm Pinckney

Walking into the new Baruch Playground, one almost feels as if the future is here today. The play equipment, including new swings, a new slide, and more, are almost unrecognizable as play equipment we have seen in our life times. The $300,000-plus renovation is a great example of what public/private partnerships can accomplish in this time of fiscal constraint. Without the help of the New York Junior League, this project would not have been able to happen so quickly. The Junior League not only helped by raising funds for this project, but also spent over 15,000 hours in the playground installing equipment, laying pavement, and recreating the playground's layout with picnic tables and landscaping.

Baruch Playground sits in the middle of the Baruch Housing Development in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The playground exists alongside the Baruch Bathhouse, the city's first free public bathhouse, which came under the jurisdiction of the Parks Department in 1940. At that time, Parks built the playground and renovated the bathhouse giving neighborhood residents places to rest and play. When the city was entrenched in a fiscal crisis in 1975 the bathhouse was closed. At the same time, Baruch Playground received special funds for a renovation including the installation of metal frame timber climbing equipment and black-top surfacing.

After 25 years of service, the metal frame timber climbing equipment was removed and the black-top surfacing replaced. Baruch also received new asphalt, play swings, fencing, brick columns, play equipment, color seal coating, benches, plantings, and a new spray shower. All of the wonderful design work by Capital Projects’ Park Designer Claire Dudley and Requirements Contracts’ Park Designer Bradley Romaker was capped off with a mural depicting New York scenes and icons by Lynn Latona.

"Lessons about friendships, teamwork and cooperation are often learned in playgrounds such as this one," Commissioner Benepe told those in attendance. "Baruch Playground in particular is very special because its recently completed renovation reflects the cooperation and teamwork of many groups of people."

And looking at the crowd you knew it was true, the smiling faces of the woman of the New York Junior League, and the smiling faces of Parkies lighting up this playground of the future.

Written by Jeffrey Sandgrund

Thomas D. Cleveland

Once in a while, you might see a curious man sitting outside of the Olmsted Center, making molds in all shapes and sizes. Who is this man? What is he doing? It’s Tom Cleveland and he’s designing sculptures.

A native of Connecticut, Tom has worked for Parks for over 9 years. He earned a B.A. from the University of Denver and a degree in Landscape Architecture from City College of New York. In Parks’ Landscape Architecture Division, he has produced many successful designs in Brooklyn parks and playground. He also contributed to the reconstruction of the Ederle Amphitheater in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park and the Blue Heron Environmental Center in Staten Island.

Tom’s sculpting talents earned him an Art Commission Award in 1997 for Excellence in Design for Public Art for 24 original sculptures of water and forest animals that he created for Graniteville Park in Staten Island. To date, Tom has created sculptures designed specifically for 20 different parks located in all 5 boroughs. These include ornamental gates, musical instruments, fountains, free standing sculptures and memorial sculptures.


“The mystery of our existence—
I have no faith in any attempted explanation of it.
It is all a dark, unfathomed profound.”

Rutherford Birchard Hayes
(October 4, 1822–1893)

Directions to Baruch Playground

  • Baruch Playground Soccer Field
  • Baruch Playground
  • Baruch Playground Basketball Courts


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