‘Tis pleasant, sure, to see one’s name in print” - Lord Byron
This park pays tribute to three pioneers in the printing field: Colonel Richard Morris Hoe (1812-1886), Johann Gutenburg (c1400-c1468), and Aldo Manuzio (1449-1515). All three men have had Bronx streets named in their honor that border Printers Park, Hoe Avenue, Aldus Street, Guttenberg Street (renamed East 165th Street in 1911).
Although a Chinese alchemist named Pi Sheng is said to have devised the first movable-type printing press between 1041 and 1048 CE, former Bronxite Colonel Richard Morris Hoe has been credited with the first successful rotary printing press in 1846. By 1857, The New York Times was using the Hoe printing press to make 20,000 impressions an hour. In 1871, Hoe developed the first printing press that could handle continuous rolls of paper. When he passed away in 1886, Hoe was buried alongside many prominent family members at St. Ann’s Church in Old Morrisania.
Hoe had resided on Southern Boulevard in the opulent Brightside Mansion. A Gothic Revival building, the mansion was turned into the Temple Beth Elohim when the Hoe family relinquished the property. The building is now used as an African Methodist Episcopal church, Bright Temple. In 1897, the Hoe family sold off the colonel’s estate, and Bronx officials divided the property into a series of city streets, including Hoe Avenue, Aldus Street, and Guttenberg Street.
Johann Gutenburg is the inventor of the modern printing press and Aldo Manuzio is an Italian printer and editor more commonly referred to by his Latin name, Aldus Manutius. Aldus started one of the first publishing companies to use the new printing press, and over the next 20 years the Aldine Press was responsible for the restoration of dozens of classic Latin and Greek works, in addition to the publication of contemporary writers such as Erasmus.
Acquired by NYC Parks in 1997, Printers Park consists of two separate parcels of land divided by a privately owned alleyway. The property had several names including Hoe Court, Hoe Garden, and Sunnyvale Courts, and upon the reconstruction of the northern section of the park in 2001, Parks Commissioner Stern renamed the property Printers Park. The renovation added new play equipment, safety surfacing, swings, a spray shower, and converted the former tennis courts into basketball courts.
In 2010, the park received new amenities including imaginative printer-themed play equipment, a spray shower that recycles water runoff, and new trees. The park’s play equipment is modeled after a rotary printing press with graduated steps that mimic the cylinders of the press. A white concrete pathway that runs throughout the site evokes the continuous roll of paper that was fed through the press. These innovative additions provide neighborhood families with park history and creative play.