Ruth MacLaughlin Playground
I believe it can mean disaster for an individual to go from childhood to maturity and never experience that communion, that deep peace...that miracle of trees and parks which bring to the human being the excitement of the whole, vast universe.
--Ruth MacLaughlin, 1968
Ruth Peterson MacLaughlin was a Riverdale resident and an assistant to former Bronx Borough President Herman Badillo, who worked for many years to improve the quality of life in the Bronx. MacLaughlin was born on July 10, 1910 in Portland, Oregon, and attended college in Los Angeles, California. The beauty of the natural surroundings of her hometown, the Rose City, also inspired her to help develop new parks in the urban landscape of New York.
Badillo described MacLaughlin as an individual who worked long and diligently to democratize the Democratic Party and to improve the political process and who was motivated by the highest ideals of public service. She served her Community Planning Board 14 as an adviser and representative of the Bronx Borough President. Prior to joining Badillo’s campaign staff in 1965, MacLaughlin had been a member of the executive committee of the FDR-Woodrow Wilson Reform Democratic Club. She worked as a professional staff member on several campaigns for reform candidates.
Ruth MacLaughlin Playground, located on Greystone Avenue north of 238th Street, was acquired by the city in 1953. It was used as a play center at one time but fell into neglect. After efforts to develop a vest-pocket park had been stalled for nearly a decade, MacLaughlin intervened to establish a proper public space for the enjoyment of the community. She died on July 25, 1968. The following year, the playground was named by the City Council in her honor.
In 1996 the park was renovated with city funds allocated by the City Council. The original play structure was dismantled and the playground remodeled with the addition of new play equipment, safety surfacing, fencing, benches, stairs and game tables.