The City of New York acquired this small parkland to the southwest of Hartley House in 1936-38, and the 45th Street Playground opened to the public on April 16, 1937. The site has since been named Mathews-Palmer Playground after park and community advocates May Mathews and Alexandra Palmer.
Social worker May Mathews (1887-1974) labored tirelessly for many years on behalf of the residents of the Clinton neighborhood in Manhattan. Born in Paterson, New Jersey, she graduated from Wellesley College in 1902. Mathews moved to New York City and divided her time between work at the Friendly House settlement in Brooklyn and studies at the New York School of Philanthropy (now Columbia School of Social Work), where she earned a certificate in 1904. She moved to Hartley House, a settlement house on West 46th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues, in 1903.