Stephen A. Rudd (1874-1936), a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, is the namesake of this playground, located on Bushwick Avenue between Aberdeen and Granite Streets. From the time of his law school graduation to his death in 1936, Rudd shared his talents with the community that shaped him. An alumnus of Brooklyn Law School and St. Lawrence University, Rudd married his constant companion Elizabeth Lindsay in 1895.
Following his admission to the New York State Bar Association in 1914, Rudd joined his family’s practice of Rudd, Rudd & Rudd in Brooklyn. A universally respected democrat, he was elected to the Board of Aldermen (the predecessor to the City Council) in 1922, a position he held for eight years. In 1931, he was elected to the House of Representatives, replacing the deceased David J. O’Connell as a member of the 72nd Congress. Elected to the 73rd Congress in 1933 as a representative of the 9th New York District, Rudd served in that capacity until the year before his death.
The City of New York acquired the land for Rudd Playground in 1928 for use by the Department of Transportation. After granting jurisdiction to Parks in 1934, the Department of Transportation surrendered the site to the city in 1954. The Board of Aldermen passed a resolution naming this playground in honor of Stephen A. Rudd in 1936, the year of his death.
Bushwick was one of the original six towns of Brooklyn. The name comes from the Dutch word “boswijck,” meaning “refuge in the woods” or “heavy woods.” Chartered in 1661 by Peter Stuyvesant, Director General of New Netherland, Bushwick was settled in the 19th century by tobacco and grain farmers from France, Scandinavia, England, and Holland. By the mid-1800s, Bushwick boasted eleven breweries on a fourteen-block stretch known as Brewer’s Row. Manufacturer and onetime presidential candidate Peter Cooper built his first glue factory here in the 1840s. Sugar, chemical, and oil industries were already established. After Bushwick was incorporated into the City of Brooklyn in 1854, the subdivision of farms, begun by Adrian Martenses Suydam in 1869, led to a population boom. Bushwick’s growth gained even more momentum after 1888, when railway access made it easier to commute to Manhattan. Bushwick became increasingly attractive to professionals. In the 21st century, with its breweries long closed, Bushwick is home to numerous ethnic groups, each of which has given the neighborhood its own unique imprint.
Rudd Playground’s amenities include a hopscotch area, swings, a spray shower, basketball courts, and play equipment, with safety surfacing. Shaded benches and picnic tables provide comfort for park patrons, and a whimsical turtle sculpture adds to the appeal of Rudd Playground.