Marcus Garvey Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Curtain Is Raised On Premier Outdoor Performance Venue In Upper Manhattan

Photo by Malcolm Pinckney

Last Thursday, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; City Council Member Inez Dickens; Community Board 11 Chair Matthew Washington; Marcus Park Alliance President and Secretary/Treasurer Carla MacIntosh and Valerie Jo Bradley; City Parks Foundation Executive Director David Rivel; and Mary Rodgers Guettel, daughter of the composer Richard Rodgers and executive board member of the Rodgers Family Foundation, to cut the ribbon on $7 million in improvements to the restored bandshell and amphitheater at Marcus Garvey Park.

The ceremony also featured performances by Laura Osnes and Colin Donnell from the Roundabout Theater Company’s production of Anything Goes, a performance by trombonist Craig Harris who played an original composition called “Harlem,” and a performance by the P.S. 166 / Richard Rodgers School Fifth Grade Honors Choir.

Funding for this $7 million project came from $4.9 million from mitigation funds provided to Parks by the MTA in connection with the Second Avenue Subway project; $600,000 allocated by Borough President Scott Stringer; $409,000 allocated by State Senator Bill Perkins when he was a Council Member, and $200,000 through his successor, Council Member Inez Dickens. The Richard Rodgers Family Foundation, established by the composer Richard Rodgers and his wife, also donated $1 million.

The new amphitheater features a wider stage that is much closer to the audience, a large, multi-purpose area backstage with changing rooms and restrooms for the performers, an improved seating area with seatbacks built of a durable recycled plastic, and a fabric canopy to shield a large portion of the audience from the hot summer sun. The historic park setting coupled with the new amphitheater’s large stage, multi-purpose backstage area, improved seating with sunshade, and upgraded lighting and sound hookups, all work together to create one of the premier outdoor performance spaces that New York City has to offer.

Thanks to the Richard Rodgers Family Foundation, a pool of $25,000 in grants are being made available to support community performances in the space. Another pool of approximately $25,000 will be available to support the commissioning of new work by City Parks Foundation for the space.

This summer, City Parks Foundation has a full schedule of programs at the Amphitheater including a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry V from August 5-8, music performances with Ryan Leslie, Funkmaster Flex and others from August 9-11, dance performances with the Cecilia Marta Dance Company, Forces of Nature Dance Theater and others from August 12-13, and the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival on August 27. To view a video of the Charlie Parker Jazz Festival in Marcus Garvey Park, please visit:

Composer Richard Rodgers (1902-79) enjoyed a spectacular career that spanned more than six decades. His hits ranged from the silver screens of Hollywood to the bright lights of Broadway, London and beyond. He was the recipient of countless awards, including Pulitzers, Tonys, Oscars, Grammys and Emmys. He wrote more than 900 published songs and forty Broadway musicals, including The Sound of Music, Oklahoma!, The King and I, and South Pacific. Rodgers’ childhood home, at 3 West 120th Street, overlooked what was then called Mt. Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park) and which the composer described as “one of the prettiest little parks in New York.” In 1970 he provided funding for the original band shell, which has now been restored and renamed “The Richard Rodgers Amphitheater.”


“There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
There's a bright golden haze on the meadow,
The corn is as high as an elephant's eye,
An' it looks like its climbin' clear up to the sky.

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

Oh What a Beautiful Morning
Music by Richard Rodgers; Lyrics by 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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