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Fort Tryon Park

Jacob K. Javits Playground

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

This playground is named after admired New York politician Jacob Koppel Javits (1904-1986). Jacob K. Javits Playground is bounded by Margaret Corbin Circle and Fort Washington Avenue. Empire Mortgage leased this property to the City of New York between 1935 and 1937. Per the agreement, the playground was and continues to be operated as a parcel within Fort Tryon Park. In February 1944, Empire Mortgage deeded the property to the City as a gift.  In December 1981, the Department of General Services placed Jacob K. Javits Playground under Parks jurisdiction and the City Council assigned the playground’s present name via local law in 1982. Parks officially dedicated the facility on June 2, 1985.

The playground was renovated in 1995; improvements featured the installation of safety surfacing. The playground includes benches, basketball courts, tire swings, and play equipment.  A cast iron fence and large stone gates surround the facility. The property’s flora includes numerous American and Siberian elm trees. Looking west, through a lush canopy of trees, park goers enjoy splendid views of the Hudson River and the New Jersey Palisades.    

The playground’s namesake, Jacob K. Javits, was born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan to Russian Jewish parents. At age 15, his family, who had since moved to Brooklyn, changed residence to West 192nd Street in Manhattan. Javits attended the newly opened George Washington High School located on Audubon Avenue. The young New Yorker continued his education by attending night courses at Columbia University and subsequently attended New York University Law School. Javits became a member of the Bar in 1927. Between 1941 and 1942, he served as an assistant to the Chief of the Chemical Warfare Service in the United States Army and later assumed active service in both the European and Pacific Theater of Operations. In 1945, the Army discharged Lieutenant Colonel Javits after awarding him the Legion of Merit and the Army Commendation Ribbon. Back in the States, he married Marion Ann Borris, eventually fathering three children: Joy, Joshua, and Carla. 

Javits served as a Republican United States Congressman, representing the Washington Heights/Inwood district from 1947 to 1955. As a Representative, he sponsored legislation concerning civil rights, health care, and social welfare. He continued his political career as Attorney General of New York State (1955-1957). Between 1957 and 1981, Javits served as United States Senator for New York State. He is remembered for a progressive voice that represented the highly liberal wing of the Republican Party. In 1970, he served as the United States representative to the 25th United Nations General Assembly. His most significant acts of legislation were the War Powers Resolution (1973), which limits Presidential authority during wartime, and the Pension Reform Act (1974), which safeguards the retirement pensions of over 50 million Americans. Although defeated in his bid for a sixth term in 1980, Javits is tied for the longest-serving New York Senator. In 1984, the convention center located on 38th Street and 11th Avenue in Manhattan was named after him. 

Jacob K. Javits was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award in the United States. When presenting the award to Javits, President Reagan noted, “He has ably represented the people of New York in the Congress and all Americans to the world. With leadership and wisdom he has guided America through historic turning points, striving always for justice at home and peace in the world.” 

Directions to Fort Tryon Park

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ParkFort Tryon Park

The path and stairs in Fort Tryon Park that lead to the Cloisters are currently closed for repairs. The construction project is in the bidding cycle. Railings and lighting will be installed as part of the project, which is anticipated to go into construction in the fall of 2016.
Anticipated Completion: Fall 2016

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