De Hostos Playground
Eugenio Maria De Hostos Playground
This playground is named for Eugenio Maria De Hostos (1839-1903), the 19th century Puerto Rican revolutionary, reformer, and educator. Born January 11, 1839, in Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, De Hostos made his way to Spain at age 13 to study at the Instituto de Segunda Enseñanza de Bilbao. In 1857, he went to the Universidad Central in Madrid, and stayed in Spain until 1869, when he traveled to New York City to work for the Cuban revolutionary paper La Revolución. In 1871, he went to South America to support liberation movements, such as the freedom of Chinese workers in Peru, education for women in Chile, and the Trans-Andean Railroad in Argentina. In 1877, he started teaching in Caracas, Venezuela, where he married Belinda de Ayala.
In 1879, De Hostos founded the Escuela Normal de Santo Domingo, a teacher’s school in the Dominican Republic, “to combat ignorance, superstition, cretinism, and barbarity.” His approach to education was groundbreaking. He believed that teachers should initiate a moral revolution among their fellow citizens that would topple the injustice in their government. He believed that formal education should prepare one for the social functions of life, labor, and family. De Hostos was also a strong advocate of education for women and physical education. In 1898, De Hostos returned to Puerto Rico to fight for his country’s independence. Unsuccessful, he went to the Dominican Republic to became director of the Colegio Central, and the Department of Public Instruction.
By his death on August 11, 1903 in the Dominican Republic, he had published 18 books, and countless newspaper and magazine articles. De Hostos wrote award-winning works on education, philosophy, pedagogy, science, literature, history, patriotic propaganda, and discourse.
Bounded by Throop Avenue and Lorimer, Walton, and Harrison Streets, this land was approved to be a playground jointly operated by the Board of Education and Parks in 1965. While still under construction, IS 318 was named for Eugenio Maria De Hostos in September 1966. The parkland opened as IS 318 Playground on June 3, 1971. In 1987, Commissioner Stern renamed it Eugenio Maria De Hostos Playground. In 1998, Mayor Giuliani sponsored a $22,677 requirements upgrade for sidewalks and pavements. The playground now features benches, a comfort station, basketball courts, a flagpole with a yardarm, handball courts, and London planetrees. In Puerto Rico today, the airport of De Hostos’ birthplace, Mayagüez, bears his name. The Eugenio Maria De Hostos Community College of the City University of New York in the Bronx also pays tribute to the groundbreaking Puerto Rican educator and revolutionary.