Poseidon Playground

Poseidon Playground

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

Bounded by Surf Avenue, West 25th Street, West 27th Street, and the Riegelmann Boardwalk, this playground is one of two in Coney Island named for the god of the seas. Poseidon was the ancient Greek god of the seas and the older brother of Zeus, king of the gods. The other playground named for the sea god, Neptune Playground, located on West 12th Street, is named for Poseidon's Roman counterpart. Usually, Poseidon is represented with a three-pronged spear, the trident, which he used to smash rocks, calm the sea, or stir up storms. Much like the seas he ruled, the god was renowned by the ancient Greeks for his moody and ever-changing behavior. Poseidon would just as soon disrupt the waters during the voyages of anyone who dared cross him as he would aid them. According to Greek mythology, Poseidon punished the mariner and adventurer Odysseus for blinding his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. Yet, Poseidon also aided the hero Theseus in finding King Minos' ring after Minos had cast his ring into the sea. Credited by the ancient Greeks with having created the first horse, the god was said to ride upon golden-maned steeds and dolphins.

Almost a century before the boardwalk opened along the Atlantic Ocean, Coney Island was on its way to becoming the nation's most popular pleasure ground. In 1824, the Coney Island House became its first seaside resort, and within a few decades, it was playing host to a steadily increasing stream of visitors. After the Civil War, new railroad lines provided direct public transportation to a rapidly expanding list of attractions: restaurants, hotels, bathing pavilions, shops, amusement rides, race tracks, theatres, and as always, the beach and the ocean. At the turn of the century, amusement parks, Sea Lion Park, Steeplechase Park, Luna Park, and Dreamland, offered rides, concessions, and entertainment on a spectacular scale. Once the BMT (Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit) subway line reached the area in 1920, the pleasures of Coney Island were just a five-cent ride away from the steaming city.

Until the 1940s, the McLodin Bathhouse stood at this site, a remnant of the glory days of Coney Island. The City of New York acquired this lot in 1945, and nine years later, assigned it to Parks. In 1987, Parks opened the playground, which contained not only play equipment but also a maintenance building. Although the planners designed the playground primarily for beach-goers, local residents use the parkland for informal festivities and picnics. In the early 1990s, the name of the park was changed from the West 27th Street Handball Courts to Poseidon Playground.

A sculpture of a seal stands to the left of Poseidon Playground, evoking the maritime flavor of the area. The tall fountains in the center of the playground spray water all day during the summer. The playground also has old-time floor games, such as Potsy and Box Ball, and two large handball courts. With the exception of the handball court, all of these features are a result of a 1995 reconstruction in which all the play equipment was modernized and animal art was added. Today, Poseidon Playground invokes the mythology of a past civilization while serving as a place of recreation for people of the 21st Century.

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Directions to Poseidon Playground

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