Lawrence Linekin Children’s Playground
This playground, located in Forest Park near the corner of Myrtle Avenue and 80th Street, honors Lawrence G. Linekin (1931-1996), a local community activist who created the Friends of Forest Park in 1976 and served as its chairman until 1990. Linekin’s work reflected his hopes for his family and his community. Under his leadership, Friends of Forest Park was awarded the SNAP Award from the Citizen’s Committee of New York (1978-79), the Parks Preservation Award (1979), the Community Service Award by the Parks Council of the City of New York (1978), and the Certificate of Merit from the Urban Environmental Council (1979).
Lawrence Linekin worked tirelessly to improve his neighborhood by participating in numerous community organizations. Among them were the Executive Board of the Parks Council of New York City and Planning Board 5 Parks Committee. Linekin was selected as a candidate for New York State Assembly in 1970 and for the New York City Council in 1981. His work in Forest Park was especially notable. In the depths of the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s, he organized the Friends of Forest Park to galvanize the community in aid of the park. With a view toward beautifying the landscape around this playground, he organized the boy scouts and girl scouts to plant flowers and paint a mural on the exterior of the park house. In 1979, Parks planted an evergreen tree near the playground where Linekin started an annual Community Tree Lighting ceremony that continues to the present day. In 1999 Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern dedicated this tree in Linekin’s name.
First opened in 1934, the site was called Dry Harbor Playground in reference to the neighborhood’s historic name. An 18th century observer, looking from Cooper Avenue across the valley to Forest Park, thought that the houses sitting atop the crests of trees and hills looked like a harbor with no water. In 1869, residents renamed the area Glendale, but left Dry Harbor Road as a reminder of the past. Today, Lawrence Linekin Children’s Playground sits within the larger Dry Harbor Playground.
The Dry Harbor nursery schoolhouse dates back to the 19th century and the birth of Forest Park. At that time, the Brooklyn Parks Department managed parklands in what is now all of Queens and Brooklyn (an independent Queens Parks Department was established in 1911). When the Brooklyn Parks Department began acquiring parcels for Forest Park in 1895, a local Frenchman named Edward Bourcier sold 15 of his 17 acres to the municipality, keeping the last two where his home stood. Bourcier died in 1906 and James Strain bought the house from Bourcier’s heirs and turned it into a private clubhouse for the Brooklyn Forest Park Golf Club. On November 31, 1924, the City of New York acquired the two-acre site of the house, and current playground, by condemnation for park purposes. The house was originally three stories tall but Parks lowered the structure to its present height of one story for use as a playground house.
A 1983 renovation included a complete reconstruction of the 1930’s playground, from the basketball courts and baseball field, to the shuffleboard courts, new ‘timberform’ play units and slides. The old wading pool was preserved. In 2003 a portion of Dry Harbor Playground was reconstructed with harbor-themed play equipment at the cost of one million in capital funds provided by former Councilmember Ognibene. New accessible entrances with improved visibility into the park were constructed after removing the 14 foot retaining wall that faced Myrtle Avenue. Perennial flower beds grace the new walkways.
In 2004, at the ribbon cutting of the reconstructed playground, Commissioner Benepe renamed the site Lawrence Linekin Children’s Playground, in honor of the man who dedicated himself to this park and its community.
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