Henry M. Jackson Playground
Henry M. Jackson Playground
In 1956, the City purchased this site for the adjacent school, P.S. 134. On October 14, 1958, the City opened the playground for school children, and in 1978, it became accessible to the public. Henry M. Jackson Playground’s clever name was coined by Commissioner Stern in 1997. It combines the street names that surround it: Henry Street, Madison Street, and Jackson Street, all of which were named for important political leaders. The playground’s name also specifically honors Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson (1912-1983) who served as a U.S. Senator from Washington (1953-1983) and in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1941 to 1953.
Henry Street was named for Henry Rutgers (1745-1830), a philanthropist, legislator, and Revolutionary War patriot. Though he served as both a colonel in the American Revolution and as a state assemblyman, Rutgers is best known for his generosity to schools, churches, and children of the poor. New Jersey’s Rutgers University, formerly Rutgers College, was named after this philanthropist in 1825.
Madison Street honors James Madison (1751-1836), the fourth President of the United States, and one of the founding fathers of this country. He was very influential during the Constitutional Convention in 1787, where he sponsored the first ten amendments known as the Bill of Rights and became known as the “Father of the Constitution.” Madison served as Secretary of State under President Thomas Jefferson (1801-1809), and then became President himself for two terms starting in 1809. Under Madison’s leadership, the United States fought and won the War of 1812.
Jackson Street was named for Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), a revered military hero and the seventh President of the United States. In 1796, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and was elected to the U.S. Senate the following year. He fought successfully as a military commander in the War of 1812, and became a national hero. In 1824, Jackson became the first President of the United States not born into a wealthy family. Reelected for a second term, Jackson’s political rise marked a shift in the balance of political power in the country.
In 2002, the nonprofit organization CityArts painted the 11,000-square-foot mural Celebrating the Heroes of our City, which stretches the entire southern border of the park. The artwork pays tribute to those lost in the attacks on New York City on September 11, 2001.
In 2014, NYC Parks named this site as part of Parks' Community Parks Initiative—a multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks and increase the accessibility and quality of parks throughout the five boroughs. This project installed an intermediate-sized basketball court and two junior courts with new hoops and backboards. The existing handball court was resurfaced, and painted lines delineate a mini-running track and volleyball area. This initiative ensures that the park remains an enjoyable neighborhood amenity for Lower East Side families for years to come.