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Pelham Bay Park

Pelham Bay Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This playground and the surrounding park honor Thomas Pell (1613-1669), an English physician who owned the eastern half of the Bronx and Westchester.

The Siwanoy, a Native American tribe of the Lenapes, sold their land to Thomas Pell in 1654, under the observation of several Siwanoy and English settlers at the Treaty Oak; located west of the present-day Bartow-Pell Mansion. To maintain peaceful relations, Pell agreed to allow the Siwanoy to reassess the boundaries of his claim every year. Thomas Pell inhabited the land until his death in Fairfield, Connecticut, and he left his estate to his nephew, John Pell (1643-1700). Arriving in America in 1671, John Pell married Rachel Hinckley and completed the family mansion by 1675. He established himself as a judicious mediator in the property disputes between Eastchester and Westchester and was elected to the state assembly. John Pell died in 1700, and between 1780 and 1850 the Pell family gradually sold off the land.

The Siwanoy originally inhabited the land of Pelham Bay Park and the Long Island Sound. For most of the year, the Siwanoy resided in small camps and lived off the rich natural resources of their environment. They gathered fruit and nuts, hunted animals in the woodlands, and fished in surrounding bays. The shores of today’s Pelham Bay Park were not only popular fishing grounds, but also sites for sacred ceremonies, burials, and the manufacture of wampum; the ornamental beads made from native shells that were used for trading with Europeans. Two very important Siwanoy ritual sites were Gray Mare and Mishow, the glacial boulders located on Hunter Island’s northwest shore and at the entrance to the Kazimiroff Nature Trail, respectively.

The park maintained its rural atmosphere until the 1880s, when the State Legislature appointed a commission to acquire large tracts of land to form a Bronx parks system. Pelham Bay Park officially became Bronx Parks Department property in 1888 when the City of the Bronx purchased the land and changed the collection of estates into a true park. The original site was over 1700 acres.

Pelham Bay Playground is located near the Bruckner Boulevard and Wilkenson Avenue. The playground first opened on October 11, 1941, with a drinking fountain, benches, slides, swings, seesaws, a sandpit, and a shower basin. Today, Pelham Bay Playground features play equipment with safety surfacing, swings for tots and kids, a sandpit, spring animals, and a picnic area.

Directions to Pelham Bay Park

Know Before You Go

There are currently 2 service interruptions affecting access within this park.

Nature CentersOrchard Beach Nature Center

The Orchard Beach Nature Center is currently closed for repairs.
Anticipated Completion: 09/01/2017

PlaygroundsSweetgum Playground

NYC Parks has removed slides in this park due to a manufacturer recall. The manufacture is currently working on an improved design and redesigned slides will be installed as soon as possible.

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