This park at the intersection of Courtlandt Avenue, East 161st, and East 162nd Streets in the Bronx neighborhood of Melrose takes its name from the old railroad station that still stands here but has been out of use for years.
A Scottish surveyor named the Bronx neighborhood of Melrose as a tribute to Sir Walter Scott’s (1771-1832) popular work Melrose Abbey. This part of the southeastern Bronx was part of the land granted to the Morris family by the British crown in the 17th century. The family began selling sections of their property in the 1850s, primarily to German immigrant families seeking residences beyond the confines of Manhattan. The introduction of rapid transit in 1908 transformed Melrose from an isolated suburb into a bustling urban area. Throughout the early 1900s Melrose became one of the largest commercial and entertainment centers of the Bronx.
Initially referred to as “the one-acre park,” this site was acquired by Parks in 1898. When it opened to the public four years later, patrons referred to the space as “the baby park” for both its small size and the number of young children who frequented it daily. In 1920, Borough President Henry Bruckner (1871-1942) officially named the site Melrose Park. Nine years later, Parks opened a public comfort station on the property.
The site includes a flagpole with a yardarm, a circular walkway surrounding a grassy area interspersed with a variety of trees, and a unique feature – an abandoned railway station at the entrance of the park. The station has not been used in many years, but the tracks of the Metro North Railroad still lie directly beneath the playground.
In 2001, Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern renamed the property Railroad Park. There is also a Railroad Park in Queens and a Railroad Playground in Brooklyn.