Playground Thirty Five XXXV

Playground Thirty-Five

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

What was here before?

This area of Queens was called Sunswick, derived from the Algonquin word Sunkisq, meaning “woman chief.” It was also known as Hallett’s Cove in the 18th century until fur merchant Stephen A. Halsey developed the area in 1839 and petitioned the state legislature to name it after the prominent fur trader John Jacob Astor (1763-1848).

Within a few decades, the area became home to several wealthy merchants, a substantial German American community, and the Steinway & Sons piano company. During the 20th century, construction of homes and apartments, the growth of new industries, and arrival of numerous immigrants transformed Astoria into today’s thriving and diverse neighborhood.

How did this site become a playground?

NYC Parks received surface rights to this playground in June 1940 and has maintained it since it opened in May 1947.

As part of Parks’ Community Parks Initiative, a multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks and increase the accessibility and quality of parks throughout the five boroughs, the playground underwent a full reconstruction that updated existing play areas in 2020. The redesigned park has a hexagonal theme inspired by honeycombs, which is echoed in the paving pattern and new decorative fencing. A life-sized bear that predates the redesign, and which earned the park the nickname “Bear Park” from local families, now resides in a planting bed.

How did this playground get its name?

This playground, originally called P.S. 166 Playground after the adjacent school, is named after nearby 35th Avenue. Running from Ravenswood to Astoria, this roadway cuts through the famous Kaufman Astoria Studios.

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