Paul Raimonda Playground
Paul Raimonda (1922-1988), an outspoken community leader in Long Island City, Queens, was born on July 5, 1922. He attended P.S. 126 and Bryant High School, and served for four years in the Army Air Corps during World War II. Both during his youth, when he was an active member in the Long Island Seneca Club, and in his later years, Raimonda was dedicated to his neighborhood.
One of Raimonda’s notable contributions was the creation of the Astoria Heights Homeowners and Tenants Association in 1971. Through the Tenants Association, Raimonda and community members sought to give a unified voice to residents. He was an instrumental leader in a successful campaign to block a state takeover and expansion of Rikers Island in 1980. His cry of “community unity” was often used during the campaign to draw the support of major civic and political organizations.
Raimonda was a member of Community Board 1 and of the Liberty Regular Democratic Club. In April 1987, the Italian-American Regular Democratic Association of Queens named him Man of the Year, and he received the good wishes of Governor Mario Cuomo. Peter Vallone, Speaker of the City Council, said of Raimonda’s commitment: “He was willing to get involved in any community issue no matter where it was. He participated in every community battle in greater Astoria and Long Island City.” After a two-year fight with cancer, Paul Raimonda died in December 1988.
Raimonda Playground, bounded by 20th Avenue and 47th and 48th Streets, was formerly known as Steinway Community Playground. The neighborhood is named for Steinway & Sons, piano manufacturers founded in New York in 1853 by Henry Steinweg. Between 1870 and 1873, Steinway & Sons bought 400 acres of land along the northwestern shore of Queens and located the company’s plant there. The company built a spacious factory and a town with a church, library, kindergarten school, and public trolley line. Unlike other factories, Steinway was not exclusively for workers since the firm treated the property as a real-estate investment, selling land and houses. Eventually, employees only constituted one third of the land’s inhabitants.
The City of New York acquired the land for this park in three parts, when three executors of the Estate of Samuel Untermeyer deeded the land to the city for “park purposes.” On February 21, 1941, NYC Parks officially gained jurisdiction over the property and the playground opened shortly after. On January 27, 1948, a local law renamed the park after the park after the neighborhood.
In 2016 a reconstruction project removed an under-utilized bocce court and replaced it with adult fitness equipment that can be used by people of all abilities. In addition to general site upgrades, NYC Parks installed centerpiece spray shower in the shape of a baby grand piano – a nod to the neighborhood’s namesake, Steinway and Sons piano manufacturer. The Friends of Raimonda Park provides free public programs and helps care for the park, ensuring Paul Raimonda’s advocacy for “community unity” remains strong in this Queens neighborhood.
Directions to Paul Raimonda Playground
- Raimonda Playground