Cunningham Park

The Daily Plant : Friday, March 16, 2001


Like people, places celebrate birthdays, and March 12, 2001 was Bowling Green's 268th. The celebration, complete with birthday cake, afforded New Yorkers the chance to honor the rich history of the City's oldest park. Like other venerable seniors, Bowling Green has seen immense changes in its lifetime. It's gone from a tribal meeting place to a cattle market. It was once a private park reserved for the people who lived near it. Today it welcomes all people.

Members of the New York Lawn Bowling Club joined Monday's celebration to demonstrate the pastime for which the park is named. As early as 1626, the New Amsterdam Dutch held Lawn Bowling matches at Bowling Green. The game remained popular into the early 1700s, and was revived a century ago, by the New York Lawn Bowling Club. In 1939, Mayor LaGuardia and Parks Commissioner Moses rededicated Bowling Green at a ceremony that featured traditional lawn bowling.

At Monday's birthday celebration, Margaret (Whitefish Bay) Barclay, Vice President of the New York Lawn Bowling Club offered students from P.S. 1 a shot at the game. Several accepted her challenge and her pointers. In lawn bowling, a large black ball is rolled toward a little white ball. Players aim to come as close to little ball as possible without touching it.

Bowling Green was first designated as a park in 1733, when it was offered for rent at the cost of one peppercorn per year. According to official documents, the people to whom it was leased were responsible for improving the site "for the Beauty & Ornament of the Said Street as well as for the Recreation & delight of the Inhabitants of this City." A statue of King George III was erected there in 1770. On July 9, 1776 just after the Declaration of Independence was read, angry citizens toppled the monument, dragged it up Broadway, and sent it to Connecticut where it was melted down and recast as ammunition.

In this locus of geographic and historical significance, Commissioner Henry J. (StarQuest) Stern; Adrian (A-Train) Benepe, Manhattan Borough Commissioner; Parkies; and visitors honored the park and with that, the historical moments the park has witnessed. Thanks to Art (Peppercorn) Piccolo, Chairman of the Bowling Green Association for suggesting the birthday party. Happy Birthday, Bowling Green. Here's to another 268 years.

(Friday, March 25, 1988)


"A Guide to the Natural Areas of Cunningham Park," the latest publication of the Natural Resources Group (NRG), is now available to the public.

The 16-page guide, with colorful illustrations by Wayne Trimm includes a brief history of the Queens Park, a map of its trails and a description of the park's natural features.


"As long as the moon shall rise,
As long as the rivers shall flow,
As long as the sun shall shine,
As long as the grass shall grow."

Native American saying for the term of a treaty

Directions to Cunningham Park

Know Before You Go

ParkCunningham Park

Due to construction, the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway is currently closed from Winchester Boulevard to Springfield Boulevard. Please use these alternate access points to and from Alley Pond Park and the Vanderbilt Motor Parkway. For more information about this project, please visit our Capital Project Tracker.

Was this information helpful?