Russell Pedersen Playground

Russell Pedersen Playground

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

There are some parks and playgrounds in New York City that are named, not for historical celebrities or nearby streets, but for a local resident, a person who became identified with the park simply through their efforts to make it a better place for the neighborhood. Russell Pedersen (1947-1968), once a frequent volunteer in the playground that now bears his name, was one such generous spirit.

As a young man, Pedersen often assisted Parks staff in what was then known as the 83rd Street and Colonial Road Playground. His involvement in park maintenance and his organization of park activities continued until his graduation from the adjacent Fort Hamilton High School in June of 1964, when he joined the United States Army.

In June of 1968, Pedersen, an infantryman, was designated for a tour of duty in Vietnam, and promoted to Staff Sergeant. On September 11 of that same year, Russell Pedersen was killed by an enemy mortar in the Quang Ngai region of Vietnam. Following his death, Parks officials recommended that the playground he had done so much for in life be named in his honor, a proposal adopted by a local law in 1969.

The City acquired this land for school purposes from the Bowery Savings Bank in March 1938. The Board of Education proposed the construction of a high school to occupy a large portion of the land, with the remaining property to be divided between an athletic field and adjacent community playground.

The proposed playground was opened on March 16, 1941, in the easternmost section of the field. In 1985, new handball courts were dedicated and named in honor of Frank P. Daly. Daly, a World War II veteran and a prominent local attorney, was a local athletic program leader until his death in 1984. The playground equipment was renovated in a $161,000 project completed in 1998, funded by Borough President Howard K. Golden.

Park Information

Directions to Russell Pedersen Playground

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