Sol Lain Plgd

Sol Lain Playground

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

This playground, located on East Broadway, Gouverneur, and Henry Streets, is named to honor Sol Lain (1936-1971), a community activist who dedicated his life to serving the youth of this Lower East Side neighborhood. Lain lived in the nearby Vladeck Park Houses and ran youth sports programs at the Henry Street Settlement, and later at the Educational Alliance. When Sol Lain died of cancer in 1971, a local law passed naming this park, formerly Henry Street Playground, in his honor.

Inspired by Lain’s commitment to his neighborhood, community members formed an organization to continue his work with children. The Sol Lain Association sponsors youth sports events at the playground and back-to-school block parties. The association also helps maintain the playground.

The asphalt playfield is named after community activist and mentor Edward Garcia (1960 – 2010). Garcia founded the Sol Lain League to improve lives of the local youth through sports such as flag football, basketball, and wiffle ball. In addition, he served as president of the Vladeck Houses Tenants Association and was a member of Community Board 3.

Sol Lain Playground is jointly operated by NYC Parks and the Department of Education. The site was home to P.S. 147 until it was replaced by P.S. 134 and the connecting playground in 1959. P.S. 134 is also known as the Henrietta Szold School, named in honor of the educator and activist Henrietta Szold (1860–1941) who in the 1930s founded the Children’s Youth Aliyah, which rescued thousands of children from Nazi Germany and helped them resettle in Israel.

Henry Street, where this playground is located, is named for Henry Rutgers (1745–1830), a wealthy Dutch merchant and the namesake of Rutgers College in New Jersey. This street was named for him in the early 19th century, when Rutgers donated two lots to the City as a school site. 

In 1994, P.S. 134 teachers and students started a small garden in the playground. Designed to teach children about plant life and gardening techniques, the garden was maintained by the students and teachers and sponsored by GreenThumb’s “Education in the Gardens” program. Since 2003, the non-profit Hester Street Collaborative has programmed the garden activities.

This site is part of NYC Parks’ Community Parks Initiative—a multi-faceted program to invest in under-resourced public parks and increase the accessibility and quality of parks throughout the five boroughs. The newly-reconstructed playground includes new, separated play areas for kids aged 6 months to 2 years, 2 to 5 years and 5 to 12 years old, as well as swings, spray shower, a basketball court, and multipurpose play space.

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