Flynn Playground

Flynn Brothers Playground

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

Among the more than 400,000 Americans killed in World War II were two brothers from this neighborhood. Michael J. (1916-1944) and John P. Flynn (1923-1944) were lost within three months of one another. This playground, which opened in the summer of 1949, was named in their memory.

Michael Flynn was born on December 3, 1916 at 496 East 162nd Street. John, seven years his junior, was born on April 15, 1923 in an apartment house at 500 East 161st Street. As children, both attended Saints Peter and Paul Parochial School, located just north of here, on Brook Avenue near 161st Street. Michael graduated from Morris High School in 1933, and John received his diploma from DeWitt Clinton High School in 1941.

At the age of 18, John enlisted in the Army Air Force. He was killed in action on June 21, 1944. Michael, who joined the 258th Field Artillery in June 1941, was transferred to the Army Air Force in April 1942. He perished on a mission on September 23, 1944.

When Parks acquired this site in 1945, it held one of New York’s most historic school buildings. It was here in 1897 that the former Grammar School No. 62 reopened as the first public high school in the North Side, as the Bronx was then known. Originally called the Mixed High School to reflect its coeducational student body, the mansard-roofed institution was the precursor to Morris High School, which opened in 1904 at Boston Road and 166th Street. Later used as a Morris annex, the “little red schoolhouse,” as it is still remembered, was built as an elementary school, but also served during its history both as a facility for the Street Cleaning Department and as a factory.

Flynn Brothers Playground, bounded by East 157th Street, East 158th Street, Third Avenue, and Brook Avenue, was named by the City Council in 1949. It originally featured shuffleboard, basketball, and volleyball courts, roller- and ice-skating areas, a wading pool, sand pit, and a brick comfort station (the only feature that remains today). In 2008, with funds allocated by the mayor, Parks refurbished the basketball courts with new backstops and bleachers, as well as the handball courts. London plane trees (Platanus x acerifolia), popular throughout New York City’s parks, provide summer shade.

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