Fountain Of Youth Playground
Fountain of Youth Playground
Located at the intersection of Union Avenue, East 150th Street, Tinton Avenue and East 152nd Street in the Bronx, the Fountain of Youth Playground honors the Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce De Leon (1471-1521) whose 1513 expedition was inspired by the search for the waters of eternal youth.
In 1493, Ponce De Leon first journeyed to the Caribbean as a participant in Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to America. Remaining in the New World, Ponce De Leon eventually assumed governorship over the Spanish Island of Hispaniola (presently known as Haiti and the Dominican Republic). Anxious to claim the New World’s gold, Ponce De Leon launched an invasion of Puerto Rico. Upon his conquest of the island and his subjugation of the native people, he learned of the legendary Island of Bimini. Bimini was rumored to hold vast amounts of gold, but the Spanish explorer was more interested in one of the island’s alleged rejuvenating springs.
Excited at this prospect, Ponce De Leon obtained funding from the Spanish crown, and set sail on March 3, 1513. On March 13, Ponce De Leon landed in Florida near present day St. Augustine, the first European said to set foot on North American soil. Unsatisfied after nearly a week of mainland exploration without discovery, Ponce De Leon returned to Puerto Rico but was soon encouraged by King Charles V to continue his search. While returning to Florida, Ponce De Leon inadvertently discovered the Gulf Stream, a massive oceanic current of the Atlantic Ocean. The Gulf Stream soon became a preferred route of travel between Spain and the Americas. Ponce De Leon’s quest for the Fountain of Youth, however, was unsuccessful. Mortally wounded during a battle with Floridian natives in 1521, Ponce De Leon never found the mythical fountain, but his early efforts contributed to the exploration and colonization of the Caribbean and Florida.
In 1965 the City acquired this property along with the property for neighboring P.S 161. Parks and the Department of Education jointly operate the playground. In 1995, the property was named the Fountain of Youth Playground.
In 1997, the playground was renovated with $1.17 million in funds allocated by Council Member Federico Perez. Boasting a Floridian theme, the playground features artificial tropical trees, water springing from the mouths of alligators in the sprinklers, and uniquely colored pink and green play equipment. Parks also maintains the handball and basketball courts adjacent to the playground.