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Lillian D Wald Playground

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, September 7, 2005


photo by Ricardo Hinkle

Lillian Wald Playground in Manhattan is September’s Park of the Month—which means it will receive special attention (including panoramic photos) on our web site until October 1. After decades of being out of operation, this .68 acre playground was recently transformed from a vacant lot into an athletic sanctuary for students at the nearby University Neighborhood High School and the surrounding community.

Lillian Wald Playground, which is located between Montgomery and Gouverneur Streets on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, reopened to the public last April. Parks & Recreation landscape architect Ricardo Hinkle designed the court game area, which consists of handball, volleyball, and basketball courts, and is surrounded by a vibrant landscape of trees, shrubs, and spring bulbs.

New York City acquired this land in 1931. As a tribute to Lillian Wald’s efforts on behalf of local families and children, Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia and Park Commissioner Robert Moses dedicated the playground in her name on December 16, 1937. Following several decades of use, the playground fell into disrepair. Former City Council Member Kathryn Freed allocated the $1.1 million required to reconstruct the site, and it was only weeks later that Mayor Bloomberg came into office, with youth’s health and recreation as a top priority, and made sure the playground finally received the attention it deserved.

While Lillian Wald’s achievements in the fields of public health, social reform, and women’s rights won her national recognition, it was her achievements in New York City that earned her the status of a local hero.

After collaborating with fellow nurse Mary Brewster to establish the Visiting Nurse Service in 1893, a home care assistance service for the poor, Wald realized the need for an even more comprehensive community service to further meet community needs. Wald founded the Henry Street Settlement later that year, which gave community residents access to health care, education, and recreation facilities. In 1898, Wald and Parks Commissioner Stover founded the Outdoor Recreation League to sponsor playground construction as a safer alternative to street play. Wald’s goal of improving the life and health of children lives on through the efforts of dedicated and caring community members, organizations, and city officials.

"Park of the Month" introduces some of our greatest parks and green spaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike. A link to this month’s highlighted park is available on Parks’ website,, and the dedicated page includes panoramic and still photos, an interactive map, historical and press information, as well as links to capital projects and inspections.

-written by Carli Smith


"Wise men and women have expounded the social philosophy of play and recreation, pointing out that these may afford wholesome expression for energies which might otherwise be diverted into channels disastrous to peace and happiness; that clean sport and stimulating competition can replace the gang feud and even modify racial antagonisms. The most satisfactory evidence of this conviction is, of course, the recognition of the child’s right to play, as an integral part of his claim upon the state."

Lillian Wald

Directions to Lillian D Wald Playground

  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting
  • Lillian Wald Playground Ribbon Cutting

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