Mathews-Palmer Playground

Parks Renames May Matthews Playground To Honor Neighborhood Advocate Alexandra Palmer

Friday, September 14, 2007
No. 119

While Alexandra Palmer helped give the park its original name by running a contest, the Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe renamed the May Matthews Playground 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 other community members of all ages met today 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 May Matthews Playground guardian. She originally helped find a name for the park, which is called May Matthews after a local social worker who brought children to the park in the 1930s. Palmer passed away in 2003. Ms. Palmer also worked for the Style Department of the New York Times. Her brother Mark Palmer represented the Palmer family at this event.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 neighborhood liaison. The park, once the grounds for gangs and criminal activity, was revitalized thanks to Palmer’s efforts. She worked with an urban planning group in the ’70s to renovate the park and make it a community-building location in the Hell’s Kitchen/Clinton neighborhood.

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.

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Directions to Mathews-Palmer Playground


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