Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

Kids Kingdom Playground

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

This playground, a gift to the community from Saturn of Staten Island, is named for the Saturn Corporation’s national “Build a Kingdom for Kids Program.”

Originally part of a mid-17th century Dutch community, the coastal neighborhoods of Middle and South Beach changed little until the 1880s. At the end of the 19th century, early investors recognized the potential of the teeming beaches filled with New Yorkers trying to escape the city’s summer heat. With the addition of hotels, bathing pavilions, theaters, beer gardens, carousels and Ferris wheels, the beachfront property transformed almost overnight.

On June 30, 1906, the Happyland Amusement Park opened its boardwalk doors. Taking full advantage of the summer closing of most Broadway theaters, Happyland’s amusements, stage productions, and vaudeville shows attracted 30,000 visitors on opening day. Drawing summer crowds for many years, some favorite attractions were the Japanese Tea Gardens, the Carnival of Venice and the shooting gallery. Eventually, fires, water pollution, and the Great Depression (1929-1939) took their toll on the beachfront resort area and the crowds dwindled.

In 1935 the beachfront property was vested to the City and underwent renovations as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) Works Progress Administration (WPA). Providing jobs for Depression Era workers, the WPA also revived the community of Midland Beach. By removing the deteriorating music halls, carousels, and shooting galleries, the project made way for the present two-and-a half-mile boardwalk. In 1939 it was dedicated to Roosevelt and has since continued to undergo periodic renovations and neighborhood improvements.

The Saturn Corporation was created in 1985 as a subsidiary of General Motors, in conjunction with the United Auto Workers Union. Saturn has participated in many partnership projects, including National Donor Day, National Education Association’s Read Across America, the National Education Association-American Federation of Teachers Partnership Fund with the United Auto Workers, and “Presents from Partners” - a toy drive for the United Way. They have also provided vehicles to transport veterans to local Veterans Administration Hospitals.

In 1996 Saturn of Staten Island funded the building of a new South Beach playground. On July 14, 50 Saturn employees, car owners, and members of the United Auto Workers from the company’s Tennessee plant installed a $30,000 playset of rings, rope climbs, ramps, bridges, and a slide at this site.

Directions to Franklin D. Roosevelt Boardwalk and Beach

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