Marcus Garvey Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Marcus Garvey Park Is Alive With The Sound Of Music

Kelli O’Hara singing at Marcus Garvey Park
Photo by Daniel Avila

On August 21, Broadway theater came to Marcus Garvey Park.

Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Benepe announced that the Marcus Garvey Park amphitheater will soon be fully renovated and feature improved acoustics, new seats and wheelchair accessible sections. The project will be funded with a $4 million allocation of City funds and a $1 million contribution by The Rodgers Family Foundation, provided to the City Parks Foundation to advance the project.

The Mayor and Commissioner Benepe were joined at the announcement by David Rivel, Executive Director of City Parks Foundation; Mary Rodgers, daughter of Richard Rodgers and Executive Board Member of The Rodgers Family Foundation; Valerie Jo Bradley, co-founder and Secretary of the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance; and Kelli O’Hara, star of Lincoln Center Theater’s 7-time Tony Award winning revival of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s South Pacific. Ms. O’Hara sang a classic song from that score – “A Wonderful Guy.”

Richard Rodgers, whose contributions to musical theater are universally recognized as extraordinary, lived at 3 West 120th Street in his youth. In 1970 he provided $150,000 for building a bandshell at what was then Mt. Morris Park and renamed Marcus Garvey Park in 1973. The new gift of $1 million by The Rodgers Family Foundation to renovate the facility will be acknowledged by renaming it The Richard Rodgers Bandshell upon the project’s completion.

The bandshell currently hosts City Parks Foundation’s Charlie Parker Jazz Festival, CityParks Concerts and CityParks Theater festivals, as well as dozens of other performances and community events every year, like the Dance Harlem Festival. While it currently serves as a vital resource for the community, the amphitheater’s facilities require significant renovation to allow for longer-term and larger-scale productions. The architectural firm, Cooper, Robertson and Partners, has been retained by City Parks Foundation to design the renovation and has already begun meetings with stakeholders to gather community input for the design.

“My sister Linda and I are delighted that the Rodgers Family Foundation will continue to support the legacy established by our father when he gave a bandshell to New York City in 1970,” said Mary Rodgers, the elder of Richard Rodgers’ two daughters. “He loved this park as a boy, and I know he would have loved the fact that a brand-new, 21st century bandshell in Marcus Garvey Park will guarantee the sound of music – everyone’s music – for many years to come.”

Since 1998, the Parks Department has devoted over $2 million for renovations and improvements to Marcus Garvey Park, including renovation of the park’s recreation center roof, restoration of the park’s paths and stairways, significant new landscaping, and rehabilitation of the park’s baseball diamond. The City Parks Foundation has produced dozens of free performing arts programs in the park over the last ten years and has also helped to support the growth of community groups around the park, including the Marcus Garvey Park Alliance. Alliance members have worked tirelessly to revitalize the park, produce cultural events in the park, attract new cultural events to the park, and advocate for the bandshell’s renovation.

The Rodgers Family Foundation, formerly known as the Richard and Dorothy Rodgers Family Foundation, was established in 1952 by Richard Rodgers and his wife Dorothy Feiner Rodgers to support worthy charitable, scientific, artistic and educational causes.


“Oh what a beautiful morning,
Oh what a beautiful day,
I've got a wonderful feeling,
Everything's going my way.”

Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein II

Directions to Marcus Garvey Park

Know Before You Go

Recreation CentersPelham Fritz Recreation Center

New York City’s recreation centers and indoor pools remain closed to the general public until further notice to provide COVID-19 related services as well as free childcare options for children who are scheduled for blended learning. To learn more or to apply for the childcare program, please visit the New York City Department of Education’s Learning Bridges program page.

Once we reopen, NYC Parks will extend all existing recreation center memberships to cover the length of time we are closed to the general public.

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