Eugene McCabe Field

Eugene McCabe Field

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

This field honors Eugene Louis McCabe (1937-1998), the founder and president of North General Hospital, located nearby on Madison Avenue. McCabe was born in New Haven, Connecticut, and following graduation from Hillhouse High School, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He returned to Connecticut after his term of service and attended Southern Connecticut University as a political science and history major.

After graduation, Eugene McCabe became the regional director for Deleuw Cather/Parsons and Associates. He was responsible for the company’s plans to launch a $2 billion rail transportation venture with Amtrak, the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority. In the midst of the New York City fiscal crisis of the mid-1970s, McCabe served as staff director for Governor Hugh Carey’s (b.1919) commission to concentrate lobbying efforts for public support of federal loan guarantees.

In 1979, Eugene McCabe founded North General Hospital. He was a valiant defender of the hospital, rallying local politicians and civic leaders to support the facility through its fledgling years. Using his managerial and political experience, McCabe worked with Governor Mario Cuomo and the State Legislature to secure the passage of a bill in 1988 that apportioned $150 million in state-sponsored bonds to improve North General. The hospital now provides greater Harlem with state-of-the-art medical centers, a nursing college, home attendant programs, and a thriving housing development corporation that has revitalized stretches of Madison Avenue with affordable co-op housing. North General Hospital is the only minority-operated, community teaching hospital in New York State.

In addition to these achievements, Eugene McCabe served on the Governor’s Healthcare Advisory Board, the Greater New York Hospital Association, the Apollo Foundation, and the Landmarks Conservancy. He also served as the Vice Chairman of the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone in the 1990s and was a staunch supporter of Stillman College. Eugene McCabe passed away in 1998. The following year, Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani signed a bill naming a stretch of Madison Avenue between East 118th and East 124th Streets “Eugene McCabe Way.”

Eugene McCabe Field is adjacent to P.S. 79, and bounded by Park Avenue, East 120th, and East 121st Streets. The City of New York acquired the property on December 17, 1959. The park has been jointly administered by the Board of Education and Parks, and the name of the facility, though unofficial, was P.S. 79 Playground. In 2001, Commissioner Henry J. Stern changed the name to honor McCabe, after Manhattan Community Board 11 voted in favor of a request for that action. In October 2001, a large scale renovation of the park was completed. The $1.887 million project, funded by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, featured a new athletic field with synthetic turf along with a new backstop, allowing for soccer games and softball. There are some interesting qualities to the new turf. Set off in relief are animal images of a ram, beetle, eagle and lynx, providing a distinct look to the field. Chain-link fencing and new benches have also been added to the field.

Eugene McCabe served his community with a deep sense of passion and commitment. This field is a tribute to his achievements.

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