Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways

The Daily Plant : Thursday, August 1, 2002


The Native Americans called it "Reckanawahaha," meaning "the place of laughing waters." Francophiles refer to it as the Riviera of Queens. Yet most New Yorkers know it as Rockaway Beach. Last week at Shore Road Parkway and Beach 73rd Street, Parks celebrated a new addition to the seascape that one doesn’t find everyday: a playground. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe welcomed Council Member Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Community Board 14 District Manager Jonathan Gaska, and campers from the nearby Sorrentino Recreation Center to celebrate the newborn park.

"Often, when we cut the ribbon at a playground, we are celebrating the reconstruction of an existing park," Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe told the crowd. "All you here today, however, are witnessing something far more rare…the birth of a brand new playground." As amazing as new playgrounds always are, the speed it took to build is equally impressive. In August 2001, construction began at the vacant lot, which featured merely some grass and a few trees. By June 2002—just ten months later—Parks had transformed the space into a seaside playground filled with fun things for kids to use.

Parks Landscape Architect Rachel Kramer wasn’t short of ideas for the new park space. Her designs included the construction of two shipshape ship-shaped play units, a shower with a whale painted into the ground, simple bronze seagulls that fit flush in the pavement, swings, benches, a drinking fountain, a flagpole, and a big blue wave-like fence that wraps around the park. Her plans also included updating the two handball courts and basketball court that was nearby so that adults and kids can play ball while catching some ocean breezes. During construction, Parks Resident Engineer Michael Azzollini checked up on the growing park and helped ensure a painless delivery.

"Normally, while getting rebuilt, the playground misses the kids that used to visit it while it waits patiently for its improvements to be done," mused Commissioner Benepe. "In today’s case, you kids will be the first to ever play in this playground. You will be able to show the playground why it’s so special." And that’s exactly what the kids did. Within minutes, they were children hanging from the ship play units, swinging on the swings, and—most importantly on the particularly hot day—running through the whale-theme spray shower. As the years roll by (like waves on the beach), this park will certainly bring showers of laughter and smiles as it grows up at its home by the sea.

Written by Eric Adolfsen


(Thursday, August 10, 1989)



The Downtown Community Television Center (DCTV) shows videos on a variety of subjects, from Hispanic music to animal rights. And next Tuesday Parks will join the bill, when DCTV offers a public showing of the Media Services Unit videos at 7:30 p.m.

The Media Services Unit, part of the Parks Academy, documents Parks activities throughout the five boroughs, producing training videos, public service announcements, and special documentary projects. Parks videos have been broadcast on WNYE-TV, Channel 25, and will be shown later this year on WNYC-TV, Channel 31.


"Never give in. Never. Never. Never. Never."

Winston Churchill

Directions to Jamaica Bay and the Rockaways

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