Fresh Meadows Park

Fresh Meadows Park

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

Fresh Meadows Park, south of the Horace Harding and Long Island Expressways at 188th Street, takes its name from the surrounding neighborhood, Fresh Meadows.  The community was once part of the Town of Flushing. The wetlands in the hilly grounds south and east of the village were fed by freshwater springs, and thus were "fresh meadows." Flushing was consolidated into New York City to form the new Borough of Queens in 1898.

With the rise of golf as a leisure sport in the early twentieth century, the rolling terrain of Queens – as well as the borough’s remoteness – made the area an ideal location in which to construct a number of golf courses. Fresh Meadow Golf Course, conceived by Brooklyn resident Benjamin C. Ribman and designed by noted golf course architect A. W. Tillinghast (1876-1942), opened in 1923 between 183rd and 188th Streets at Horace Harding Boulevard.

Though the course hosted the 1930 PGA Championship and the 1932 U.S. Open – two of professional golf’s most prestigious annual tournaments – the course was sold to the New York Life Insurance Company on April 1, 1946 for the construction of a much-needed residential community. Housing was in short supply throughout the post-World War II period as the borough grew by more than 230% between 1920 and 1950.  The development, completed in 1949, was dubbed a “model urban community” and praised by the urban historian Lewis Mumford as “perhaps the most positive and exhilarating example of large-scale community planning in this country.”  In addition to both single-family and high-rise buildings, New York Life built a shopping center, a theater, and schools on the 141-acre property.

The City acquired the land for Fresh Meadows Park in three stages.  The first portion was acquired by condemnation on May 2, 1947 and the second by a local law passed on July 22, 1948 that freed up land formerly used for North Hempstead Turnpike.  A donation from the New York Life Insurance Company to the City on January 15, 1948, extended the park to its current boundaries. Today the park’s many trees create shade along Horace Harding Expressway and benches provide a pleasant place for pedestrians to sit and rest.

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