Moore Homestead Playground
Moore Homestead Playground
What was here before?
In the mid-1600s the surviving children of Reverend John Moore (1620-1657) were granted 80 acres of land in the area in recognition of his contributions to the settlement. Rev. Moore was the town’s first minister, responsible for the founding of the settlement in 1652 and arranging the peaceful purchase of Newtown from the Mespeatches tribe in 1656. Captain Samuel Moore (1645-1717) built a house here in 1661, and the property was handed down to generations of his descendants. During the Revolutionary War, the Moores were loyalists and sympathetic to the crown. British encampments lined up and down Broadway and Hoffman Boulevard, including the Moore property. British General William Howe maintained his headquarters nearby at the Samuel Renne House (located at the modern-day southwest corner of 57th Avenue and Queens Boulevard, demolished in 1937.)
The property is also known as the birthplace of the famous “Newtown Pippin” apple which arose from the farm of Gershom Moore, Captain Samuel Moore’s brother. The Newtown Pippin is the oldest commercially grown variety to be bred in the United States and a famed apple during Colonial times. On December 31, 2013, the City of New York adopted the Newtown Pippin as their official apple.
How did this site become a playground?
Around the turn of the 20th century, most of the Moore estate was divided into building lots and sold at auction. The site of the homestead, however, remained in the family until the Board of Transportation acquired it during the construction of the Independent Subway in 1930. The buildings were razed in 1933 and the property was transferred to NYC Parks. In 1954, it was converted to Elmhurst Playground.
In 1987, the City Council renamed the playground to commemorate the location of the Moore homestead. In 1992, capital reconstruction of the park was interrupted when workers unearthed a brick cistern formerly used to store water for the old homestead. Subsequent archaeological investigation determined that the cistern was made of European-made bricks used as ballast on ships bound for American shores. It contained old foundations and household goods from 1900 to 1930, such as dishes, bottles, cans, and clothing.
In 2020, a large-scale redesign and revitalization was completed through the Parks Without Borders capital construction initiative to make parks more accessible and welcoming to everyone while improving neighborhoods by extending the beauty of parks out into communities and create vibrant public spaces by transforming underused areas. The park redesign reduced fence heights, increased ADA accessibility, upgraded play equipment and spray showers, new ball courts, a new amphitheater, and the introduction of native plant species to increase biodiversity.
Who is this playground named for?
Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) was the better-known ancestor of Reverend Moore. Born in New York City, Clement spent much of his boyhood at the family estate in Newtown. Moore is best known as the author of the children’s poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas," which he composed poem for his wife Catherine Elizabeth Taylor Moore and their children in 1822. A family friend had the poem published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel the following year, and it was subsequently republished in newspapers, magazines, and illustrated editions. The poem became a classic popularly known as "The Night Before Christmas” and brought the idea of Santa Claus to mainstream culture. Moore died in Newport, Rhode Island in 1863.