Mathews-Palmer Playground

The Daily Plant : Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Honoring A Neighborhood Activist At The Matthews-Palmer Playground

Photo by Daniel Avila

While Alexandra Palmer helped give May Matthews Playground its name by running a contest, the park was recently renamed to commemorate more than 30 years of Ms. Palmer’s volunteerism and community work.

Commissioner Benepe, Assembly Member Dick Gottfried, Hartley House Executive Director Mary Follett, the Palmer family, members from West 46th Street Block Association and community members of all ages met on September 15, at the playground on West 46th Street between 9th and 10th Avenues, to unveil its new name: the Matthews-Palmer Playground.

"The partnership between community volunteers and the Parks Department keeps parks central to neighborhood life," Commissioner Benepe said. "I am proud to recognize Ms. Palmer’s contribution to Parks and the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood. I’d like to thank members of the West 46th Street Block Association for suggesting that we honor Ms Palmer's work by adding her name to the playground."

Ms. Palmer lived on West 46th Street for 40 years and served as the guardian of May Matthews Playground. In 1977, she assisted in naming the park after a local social worker who brought children to the park in the 1930s.

Between 1980 and 1990, Ms. Palmer opened and locked the park each morning and evening, cleaned up the park and served as the Parks Department’s neighborhood liaison. The park, once the grounds for gangs and criminal activity, was revitalized thanks to her efforts. She worked with an urban planning group in the 1970s to renovate the park and make it a community destination in the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood.

Ms. Palmer passed away in 2003. She also worked for the Style Department of the New York Times. Her brother Mark Palmer represented the Palmer family along with half a dozen relatives at the renaming.

Currently, Parks is in the midst of a major initiative to improve parks throughout Manhattan, with 42 projects totaling $187 million under construction, and another 55 projects costing $141 million currently in design or procurement.


"Defining and analyzing humor is a pastime of humorless people."

Robert Benchley

(1889 – 1945)

Directions to Mathews-Palmer Playground


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