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Marconi Park

Marconi Park

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

This park is named to honor Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), an Italian scientist who pioneered the wireless telegraph and subsequently developed the modern radio. Born in Bologna, Italy, Marconi was the son of an Italian businessman, Joseph, and an Irish physicist, Annie Jameson. From an early age, Guglielmo displayed exceptional intelligence and an interest in electricity and physics. When his family moved to Liverno in 1885, Marconi began a detailed study of the electromagnetic experiments of Heinrich Hertz and James Clerk Maxwell.

During the summer of 1894, Marconi began to question Hertz’s assertion that electromagnetic waves could not be used for the purpose of communication. In a makeshift laboratory (which was actually his parent’s granary), the inquisitive physicist carefully repeated Hertz’s experiments. Using the experiment’s results, during the fall of 1895, Marconi was able to send wireless Morse code signals across farmland pastures. The primitive device served as the world’s first wireless telegraph. Guglielmo Marconi spent the subsequent 18 months improving the range of his invention, developing what he called an antenna, and obtaining a patent.

In February 1896, Marconi traveled to London, England, hoping to find financial backing for his project. The inventor encountered Sir William Preece, the director of the British Post and Telephone companies, who provided capital to form the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in 1897. By this time, Marconi could transmit signals distances of ten miles. Consequently, the wireless telegraph immediately found a niche in the nautical community.

In 1899, Marconi presented the system to the United States Navy. Although highly impressed, the Navy questioned the efficacy of a transmitter that could provide only one channel for communication. Undaunted, Marconi enlisted the aid of electrical engineer John Ambrose Fleming and together they discovered and patented tuning, the ability to transmit signals on numerous channels. Thus, the modern radio was born. On December 12, 1901, Guglielmo Marconi transmitted transatlantic radio signals across the Atlantic Ocean between Poldhu, in Cornwall, England, and St. John's, in Newfoundland. In 1909, Marconi received the Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in wireless communication. During World War I, as an Italian Officer, the scientist pioneered the development of VHF (very high frequency) radio waves, which in the future would allow television transmissions. Amazingly, in 1934, he developed a radio beacon for ships blinded by fog; the beacon led to the modern incarnation of radar. Guglielmo died shortly thereafter, in 1937. He is recognized as the father of modern communications.

155th Street, 108th Avenue, 157th Street, and 109th Avenue bound Marconi Park. Parks acquired the property on February 15, 1938, for the benefit of the adjacent P.S. 40 (William Wordsworth School) and the South Jamaica community. The playground opened on June 26, 1939, under the administration of Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia. Until 1974, Parks and the Board of Education jointly operated the playground. Today, Parks operates this playground independently. Previously known as Marconi Memorial Field, Parks assigned the property’s present name in June 1987.

Marconi Park boasts eight handball courts, nine basketball standards, two baseball backstops, a comfort station, safety surfacing, swings, slides, modular play equipment, benches, a flagpole with yardarm, and game tables. In October 1995, Marconi Park received a $50,000 renovation. Funded by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, the improvements featured the installation of new safety surfacing.

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