What was here before?
This site was previously occupied by residential buildings, which were condemned to make way for the construction of the Triborough Bridge. The land was acquired by the City of New York in 1931.
How did this site become a park?
When Robert Moses (1888-1981) took control of the Triborough Bridge Authority in 1934, he envisioned a series of parks with play facilities and landscaping surrounding the bridge approaches. In addition to Chappetto Square, there are six parks and playgrounds on Hoyt Avenue North and Hoyt Avenue South, between 21st and 26th Streets, known as the Triborough Bridge Playgrounds. Following the bridge’s completion, the land was surrendered to NYC Parks in 1937.
This square underwent total reconstruction in 2020 as part of Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, a multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks and increase the accessibility and quality of parks throughout the five boroughs. Previously used for street hockey, the improved site includes four courts for Ecuavóley, the Ecuadorian version of volleyball, and new seating areas at the community’s request.
Who is this park named after?
This park is named for 2nd Lieutenant Peter Chappetto, an Astoria resident who was killed in action during World War II. Born in 1913 in Astoria, was a standout athlete in baseball and basketball at William Cullen Bryant High School in Long Island City and played for several semi-professional teams in Astoria after graduating. He enlisted with the Army in early 1941, and in 1944 was commissioned as an armored corps officer in the Pacific Theater. During the invasion of Palau at the Battle of Anguar, he was seriously wounded on September 26, 1944 but still managed to direct his platoon to safety. He died later that day and was buried at sea. He was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart, Silver Star, and presidential citation.
In October 1946, City Council Member Mae Gallis of East Elmhurst introduced a petition to name this playground in Chappetto’s honor. A flagpole with a plaque memorializing Chappetto and all those who died in World War II was dedicated in 1949. A rededication ceremony was celebrated on Nov. 11, 1999.