Sara D. Roosevelt Park

Stanton Street Courts

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

Stanton Street, first opened in 1806, was named for George Stanton, an agent for James de Lancey, Jr. The de Lancey family once owned a farming estate that encompassed much of the present Lower East Side. The estate was confiscated and sold after the Revolutionary War, but several Lower East Side street names, including Stanton and Delancey Streets, are a testament to the de Lancey influence on the early structure of the neighborhood. Although the life of George Stanton remains largely unknown, his name lives on in the Lower East Side.

The City acquired the land for Sara D. Roosevelt Park in 1929, with the intention of widening Chrystie and Forsythe Streets and building low-cost housing. It was later designated for “playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children.” The construction of the park in 1934 was the largest park project on the Lower East Side since the acquisition of Tompkins Square Park a century earlier. Parts of four streets were closed (Hester, Broome, Rivington, and Stanton) to accommodate seven distinct play areas with separate playgrounds for boys and girls, as well as two wading pools, a roller skating rink, and a perimeter of benches and shade trees.

The park dedication ceremonies on September 14, 1934 demonstrated the Lower East Side’s reverence for Mrs. Roosevelt and its jubilant reception of “America’s finest playground.” A cannon salute and a performance by the Parks Department Orchestra were broadcast on radio stations from Maine to Virginia. In his opening address, Harry H. Schlacht, founder of the East Side Home News, proclaimed the day to be “the birth of a new Lower East Side.” Recent additions to the Sara D. Roosevelt Park include the Golden Age Center for senior citizens, a vendors market, and the Wah-Mei Bird Garden. Park facilities and security improved greatly in 1996, with the completion of a 2.7 million dollar capital project that elevated the sunken park to street level and provided a new playground, the Stanton Street basketball courts, and sidewalks.

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