Maria Hernandez Park

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A Park Worthy Of Its Namesake

Danny Avila

Maria Hernandez Park in Bushwick, Brooklyn is December’s Park of the Month. This nearly seven-acre recreational oases is bordered by Knickerbocker Avenue, Irving Avenue, Starr Street and Suydam Street.

Maria Hernandez Park was completely reconstructed in the past few years. Thanks to funds from the Mayor and the City Council, Parks rebuilt the entire playground with new play equipment, a spray shower, fencing, pavement, and benches. The basketball courts were renovated and new exercise equipment, decorative gates and landscaping were installed. A plaza with a performance stage was installed creating an ideal locale for community gatherings. The perimeter sidewalks around the park were reconstructed by the Department of Transportation. Currently, Parks is installing new steel fencing around the planting beds and rebuilding the Park’s drainage system. This work will be complete by next spring.

Patrons frequent Maria Hernandez Park to participate in sports including soccer, basketball, handball, volleyball, and tag football. The Park is also a natural community gathering place and hosts several popular events each year. The annual events include theatrical programming from the City Parks Foundation, a children’s art and literacy event from the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services, National Night Out from the 83rd Precinct, and various health fairs.

“Maria Hernandez helped to rid the community of drugs and crime by organizing positive activities such as block parties, athletic activities, and cultural events,” said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. “Maria Hernandez Park honors her legacy by hosting countless events focusing on the arts, literacy, health and safety. In recent years, we completely reconstructed the park, building a new playground, basketball courts, handball courts, and a performance plaza. A popular recreational haven in Bushwick, Maria Hernandez Park continues the positive influence of its namesake.”

Maria Hernandez and her husband Carlos were leaders in the struggle against drugs in Bushwick. They pleaded with drug dealers to leave the streets and provided information to the police about drug trafficking. She was a positive role model for young people, organizing community events to educate her neighbors of the perils of drugs. On the morning of August 8, 1989, Hernandez was fatally struck by five shots fired through the window of her Starr Street home. The death of this brave and dedicated woman was commemorated later that year when the City renamed the park in her honor.

Prior to the renaming, it was known as Bushwick Park. The City of Brooklyn purchased the land for Bushwick Park from several landowners including showman Phineas T. Barnum and his wife Nancy. Major landscaping and building transformed the site into a showplace park by 1896.

Park of the Month introduces some of our greatest parks and green spaces to curious New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Directions to Maria Hernandez Park

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