Queensbridge Park

Queensbridge “Baby” Park

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

Queensbridge “Baby” Park is one of the many facilities that resides within the bounds of Queensbridge Park and derives its name from the nearby Queensboro Bridge (also known as the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, Queensbridge, or the 59th Street Bridge) and the appellation of “baby,” indicating the park’s small size.

Dr. Thomas Rainey (1824-1910), a resident of Ravenswood, Queens, spent twenty-five years of his life and most of his fortune advancing the construction of a bridge across the East River between Manhattan and Long Island City. The area that now accommodates Rainey Park (just to the north) was to be the Queens anchor for the “Blackwell Island Bridge”. The bridge, planned with one ramp south to Brooklyn and another out to Long Island, was promoted as a catalyst for developing growth in Queens and as a railroad link to Long Island. To the community’s disadvantage, the effort fell apart during the financial Panic of 1873, but interest in building a bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan continued. 

On July 19, 1901, construction on the Queensboro Bridge began. After several delays, including a lengthy steel strike, the final link in the superstructure of the Queensboro Bridge was completed in March 1908. One year later, the bridge opened to traffic, at the cost of $20 million and fifty lives. The original 1909 configuration of the bridge accommodated six lanes for motor vehicles: four pairs of trolley tracks, two elevated subway lines, and lanes for pedestrians and bicyclists. By the 1930s, this connection with Manhattan had transformed Queens from a rural outpost into a borough with a population of over two million by the 1950s.

The City acquired the land that is now Queensbridge “Baby” Park on December 28, 1939. The nearby Queensbridge Houses entitled the New York City Housing Authority to jurisdiction over the land. However, NYC Parks has since maintained the site as parkland. Queensbridge Park provides neighborhood residents with a variety of facilities including the handball courts that constitute Queensbridge “Baby” Park.

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