Castle Hill Playground
Parker Playground, bounded by Castle Hill Avenue, Parker Street, and Purdy Street, has served as a play area for nearby Castle Hill Middle School for more than 40 years. Parks named the playground in 1987 in tribute to Parker Street, which is named for James Parker, an influential justice of the peace in Westchester Village in the 1850s.
Castle Hill Avenue was originally a path used by the Siwanoy Indians as early as 700 A.D. The name Castle Hill was coined by Adrian Block, a 17th century New Netherland Company explorer who thought one Siwanoy fort in the region looked like a castle. During the American Revolution, the Castle Hill area was owned by wealthy landowner and politician Gouverneur Morris Wilkins, who constructed a home at what is known today as Castle Hill Point. In 1775, Wilkins was elected as a delegate to New York’s Revolutionary Provincial Congress, where he helped draft the first constitution of the State of New York. The statesman’s property was passed down to his son-in-law John Screvin, who sold plots for development into what would become the present-day Castle Hill area.
The property on which this playground stands was acquired by the city from the Board of Estimate on March 11, 1954, and the park opened on May 29, 1957. Since then, the playground has been used for basketball and softball games, as well as roller-skating, handball, and shuffleboard. It is now jointly operated by the Board of Education and Parks.
Parker Playground is also utilized by several after-school and community programs. The Champion’s Club provides activities including tennis, track & field, softball for neighborhood children in the spring and fall. Another program, The Big Apple Games, provides a similar recreational program for area children during the summer.