What was here before?
In 1921, the Society of Friends, a Christian denomination also known as the Quakers, purchased this property to provide athletic facilities for students of Quaker schools in the New York area. Fifty years later the Society discontinued use of the athletic fields and offered the parcel for sale. After extensive lobbying by the community and a 500-person rally in the park, the city purchased the land aided by a federal grant. Though the Society had received bids from private developers, they accepted the city’s offer which guaranteed the continued recreational use of the property.
How did this site become a park?
NYC Parks purchased the land on Jan. 17, 1973, and in the following month, other sections of the property were acquired through condemnation. The committee that formed to save the park became the Friends Field Advisory Board and worked with NYC Parks to develop this site. Adjacent to the High School for Service and Learning at Erasmus athletic fields, this park features expansive lawns, a field house, tennis courts, fenced baseball diamonds, and bleachers. In 2006, NYC Parks completed a capital project installing the park’s first playground, specially designed for toddlers.
Who is this park named for?
This park is named for the Society of Friends who once owned the land. The term Quaker comes from the group’s physical display of religious fervor during meetings. The earliest record of the Society dates from the 1640s in England. In 1657 a group of English Quaker missionaries who had been banished from Boston arrived in New Amsterdam. Dutch Director General Peter Stuyvesant (1610-1672) immediately began persecuting these immigrants for their non-traditional practices that included devout pacifism. Stuyvesant was also offended by the Quaker belief in the “inner light” of God—the idea that all individuals possess a direct relationship with God and can communicate with Him without an ordained member of the clergy and without the Bible.