I Am Park

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

There is substantial speculation and very little fact to explain for the origin of the name of I Am Park. However, the park was formerly known as Jackson Playground, named after the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson (1767-1845). Jackson studied law and was appointed as a judge in the Tennessee Supreme Court from 1798-1804, but his true passion was served when he joined the military. Jackson achieved great fame following his decisive victory over the British in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

Jackson was the popular favorite to win the presidential election of 1824, but because there were three other major candidates, Jackson won only a plurality of the electoral votes, not a majority. Thus the decision was thrown into the House of Representatives, where Senator Henry Clay organized a coalition that would defeat Jackson and propel John Quincy Adams (1767-1848) to the presidency, an underhanded tactic that Jacksonians would not let Adams forget during his four-year term. In the following election of 1828, Jackson easily defeated Adams, and later defeated Henry Clay to win reelection in 1832.

Some early historians considered Jackson the first president of the people because of his lower class background, though his desire to advance white, male suffrage and his antagonism towards Native Americans was seen as racist by others. His questionable policies drew him into constant conflict with Chief Justice of the Supreme Court John Marshall. Jackson also fought adamantly against the Second National Bank, and although he succeeded in dismantling it during his tenure, the country fell into a depression as a result.

In 1837, when Jackson’s presidency came to an end, there were no streets in East Morrisania. When Rowland Robbins, owner of a large farm east of St. Mary’s Street, sold his property to tenants during the Civil War (1861-1865), he insisted that East Morrisania’s only major street be named after him. First called Robbins Street, Robbins Avenue was renamed – inexplicably -- Jackson Avenue in 1905, sixty years after Jackson’s death. Some historians have suggested that city planners were inclined to rename the street after Washington and Rosetta Jackson, two prominent homeowners who acquired the old Robbins property.

I Am Park, located directly below the expansive St. Mary’s Park, contains a single basketball court, but it stands out nonetheless because of its unique wall structure: a series of geometrically-shaped hollowings in squares, circles and triangles. These cut-outs and containing wall, built by Roulf Myller and Associates in 1970, give the park the appearance of an artistic fortress. The land for the park was purchased in the late 1960s as an addition to J.H.S 155, which is now the Bronx Career Development Center, and it opened on May 17, 1971. The parkland is jointly operated by the Department of Education and Parks.

Park Information

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