Brigadier General Charles Young Playground

The Daily Plant : Tuesday, August 3, 2004


Careening down slides and swinging toward blue skies are always childhood favorites. Eight-year-old camper Janay Wilkinson agrees but prefers the monkey bars for her daily exercise regimen. "I like the monkey bars because they give you strength," she said boisterously. "They are the best to play on."

A frequent visitor and aficionado of Colonel Charles Young Playground, Janay was among the more than 50 campers from Hansborough and Jackie Robinson Recreation Centers who joined Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Council Member Bill Perkins, Parks Committee Chair of Community Board 10 Haja Worley, and Parks & Recreation Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro to celebrate the refurbishing of the playground on Tuesday, July 27. A popular recreational ground in Harlem, the playground received a $606,700 makeover with funds allocated by the Mayor’s Office.

"This old park was, literally, everything it was cracked up to be," remarked Commissioner Benepe. "The new, colorful play equipment and re-paved surface have given this playground a whole new look."

Bright blue, green, and yellow playground equipment adorn the area, now home to two new play apparatuses for toddlers, a large structure for children, and several new pieces of exercise equipment. The area surrounding the playground received a special boost with the installment of soft, safety surfacing for children to skip, hop, and jump on. Additional improvements include a garden, restored water service to the area, and freshly sodded grass on the northern ballfield.

"It may be called Colonel Charles Young Playground, but it is your park," remarked Council Member Perkins to the campers. "Anytime you walk in here, remember that it has been refurbished for you, and you need to take care of it."

Named for Colonel Charles Young, the playground is one of two Harlem parks to honor the distinguished army officer, cartographer, teacher, and diplomat who opened the door for African Americans to enter fields that were formerly closed to them. Colonel Young was the third African American to graduate from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1889. He traversed the globe, visiting Haiti, Liberia, and Mexico, and established a school for African American soldiers at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. Colonel Young passed away on January 8, 1922, and his home, previously a way station on the Underground Railroad, is scheduled to become the future site of the National Museum of African American Military History.

The City acquired the property in 1944 and opened the playground to the public in September of that year. The playground is located across the street from the 369th Core Support Battalion Armory, home to the "Harlem Hellfighters," who were active in both World Wars, and the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraq Wars. Myriad programs, such as the annual visit of the World Champion Black Rodeo, are held on the playground’s ballfields.

The new playground was designed by Bradley Romaker, and the chief contractor was UA Construction/TA Pyramid. The project manager for the upgrade was Vijittri Marbumrung.

Written by Melissa Kuhn


"Words, like Nature, half reveal and half conceal the Soul within."

Alfred Lord Tennyson

Directions to Brigadier General Charles Young Playground

  • Col. Young Playground
  • Col. Young Playground Mural
  • Col. Young Playground Spray Showers
  • Col. Young Playground Basketball Courts
  • Col. Young Playground Baseball Field

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