Cooper Park

Margaret Carnegie Playground

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

What was here before?

This site and the surrounding area, located in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, was once owned by inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist Peter Cooper (1791-1883).

In 1821, Cooper purchased a working glue factory in Kips Bay, and in 1838 he relocated the business to Maspeth Avenue in Brooklyn, a strategic site which had access to roads connecting with New York-bound ferries and Long Island farms. Cooper retired from the glue business in 1865 and sold the factory to family members. The Peter Cooper Glue Company later moved its headquarters to Gowanda, New York and closed in the early 1990s.

How did this site become a playground?

In 1895 Cooper’s descendants sold the site of the original glue factory to the City of Brooklyn. Within a year the site, known as Cooper Park, was outfitted with a playground and landscaping.

In 1938, construction carried out by the Works Progress Administration transformed Cooper Park. New features included a roller-skating track, a sitting area, horseshoe and shuffleboard courts, and play areas for children and tots. The basketball, handball, and beach volleyball courts were reconstructed along with the new addition of a dog run in 2015.

Who is this playground named for?

This site honors Margaret Carnegie (1910-1993), a leading advocate for public housing. Throughout her adult life, she worked to improve the neighborhood through public housing, the strengthening of family relations, and better quality of life for seniors.

Margaret Carnegie was born in Lawrenceville, Virginia, on April 27, 1910. She moved to New York in 1920 where she attended the Florence Garnett Training School for Girls, Junior High School 136, and Morris High School in the Bronx. In 1953, Carnegie moved to the recently built Cooper Park Houses. For the next forty years of her life, she became deeply involved in the Greenpoint-Williamsburg community. Carnegie had a special interest in improving the livelihood of seniors. She worked for better housing and safety for the elderly, as well as activities for their mental and physical health. She is credited with bringing ‘Grandparents Day’ (first Sunday after Labor Day) to New York. Grandparents Avenue, located along a section of Kingsland Avenue, earned its name in recognition of her work. Shortly before her death in 1993, this playground was named in her honor.

Carnegie’s leadership bridged differences between ethnic groups in the Greenpoint–Williamsburg area. Her involvement in several neighborhood organizations throughout her life made this achievement possible. She was part of the National Congress of Neighborhood Women, Greenpoint Renaissance Enterprise Corporation, Council for the Aging, Williamsburg Greenpoint Independent Democrats, and Devoe Street Baptist Church. She was founder and chaplain of the Cooper Park Senior Citizens Organization and served as president of the Grandparent Organization Inc.

Margaret Carnegie frequented Cooper Park and regularly participated in poetry readings. She believed that through poetry she could encourage her neighborhood to improve their conditions, both as individuals and as a community. In the documentary film Metropolitan Avenue, she appears on her birthday reciting Douglas Malloch’s poem “Be The Best Of Whatever You Are.”

Park Information

Directions to Cooper Park

  • Cooper Dog Run
  • Cooper Park
  • Cooper Dog Run

Highlights

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