Power Playground

Power Playground

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

Marshal Power (1922-1957) was a resident of Brooklyn who had a distinguished career in military and government service. His given name was a tribute to his father, James Michael Power, who served as United States Marshal for the Eastern District of New York. James Marshal Power attended Manhattan College until 1942 when he enlisted as a private in the Army. He served honorably with the Forty-second (Rainbow) Infantry Division in France and Germany during World War II. When he left the Army in 1946, Power was a lieutenant.

Power returned to New York and graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in Brooklyn in 1949. He worked as examiner and later secretary of New York’s Department of Investigation from 1946 to 1950. Power balanced his private practice at law firms in Brooklyn and Manhattan with his public service for the State of New York. He served as assistant counsel to two successive Democratic minority leaders in the Legislature and worked as deputy superintendent and counsel of the State Banking Department from 1955 to 1957. Power was active in a variety of organizations, including the Brooklyn Club, the St. Patrick’s Society, the Brooklyn Bar Association, and the James M. Power Democratic Club (founded by his father). James Marshal Power died of cancer in 1957 at the age of thirty-five.

In 1954 the New York City Transit Authority surrendered the site of a former streetcar barn to the Board of Estimate. The lot at the southwest corner of Utica Avenue and Avenue N in Brooklyn’s Flatlands neighborhood was assigned to Parks in 1958, and plans were prepared for a new playground. The 755th playground in the Parks system opened in April 1959 with facilities for all age groups. There were basketball courts, handball courts, and a softball diamond; a play area with sandpit, shower basin, comfort station, slides, swings, and seesaws; an open space for roller skating and softball; and a quiet area with game tables and horseshoe pitching. New shade trees were planted within the playground and around the perimeter. In September 1959 the playground was named for James Marshal Power under Local Law 83, introduced by Councilman Sam Curtis of Brooklyn and signed by Mayor Robert F. Wagner. Power Playground was reconstructed in 1997-98 under a $1,000,000 capital project funded by Council Member Herbert E. Berman. The playground features new play equipment, a bocce court, swings, safety surfacing, pavements, curbs, fencing, benches, game tables, trees, security lighting, water supply, and painted lines for roller hockey. Also, the handball and basketball courts, ballfield, and drainage system were rebuilt, and a yardarm was attached to the flagpole. The playground design was inspired by Rainer Maria Rilke’s (1875-1927) famous poem "The Panther." The text of the poem is set in stainless steel letters that are embedded in colored concrete pavement near the center of the park. With "powerful soft strides," sleek panthers prowl through Power Playground.

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