Sorrentino Recreation Center

Sorrentino Recreation Center

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

For more information, including schedules, please visit this page.

This Recreation Center is dedicated to the memory of Robert Sorrentino (1944-1980), a police officer with the 101st precinct who was killed in the line of duty on April 24, 1980. Officer Sorrentino was a seven-year veteran of the force, having served most of his career in this Rockaway community. The center was dedicated to Officer Sorrentino in December of 1980.

This center offers a clean and safe environment for people of all ages who live in the area, offering programs designed to emphasize fitness, health, education, sports, and recreation. Some of the activities offered include: play-school facilities, a weight room, dance classes, soccer, double dutch, board games, arts and crafts, computer classes, summer camps and a variety of social events. An extensive in-house renovation, carried out between 1985 and 1987, consisted of repairing the heating, plumbing and electrical systems, and the painting of all interior rooms. Additionally, a new preschool room now serves as a daycare center.

Located at 18-48 Cornaga Avenue, this center serves the surrounding community of Far Rockaway, on the easternmost tip of the Rockaway peninsula. The name Rockaway is closely related to the language of the Delaware and Chippewa Native Americans. Linguistic experts recognize both “Reckonwacky,” meaning “the place of our own people,” and “Reckanawahaha,” meaning “the place of laughing waters,” as the area’s indigenous names. Following the region’s European colonization during the 17th century, the present name was probably derived from these meanings. Other interpretations include “lekau,” meaning sand, and “lechauwaak,” for fork or branch. All interpretations reflect the historic and geographic traits of the peninsula.

The Canarsie Tribe, which originally inhabited the area, sold the mostly barren land to Captain Palmer, an Englishman, with a deed granted by then Governor Thomas Dongan (1634-1715) in 1685. Disappointed with his purchase, Palmer sold the land in 1687 to a prominent iron master from Long Island, Richard Cornell, whose descendant, Ezra, founded Cornell University in 1865. Improvements in transportation, under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) in the 1930’s, led to the growth of Rockaway. The completion of two bridges, the Marine Parkway Bridge in 1937 and the Cross Bay Bridge in 1939, connected Rockaway to mainland Queens and Brooklyn. Innovations in railroad service and the development of the elevated subway allowed popular access to the peninsula. Subway access stimulated Rockaway’s transition from a vacation area to a neighborhood with permanent residents.

This building, constructed in 1921, was acquired by the City from the Knights of Columbus in 1974. Parks received jurisdiction in the same year and rented the building to the Police Athletic League (PAL) at a yearly rate of one dollar until 1985. In this year, PAL vacated the center and Parks closed it to the public to begin repairs. The center today provides a wide range of activities and extra-curricular opportunities for Rockaway residents of all ages.

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Recreation CentersSorrentino Recreation Center

Sorrentino Recreation Center remains closed to the public until further notice. Some recreation centers are being used for COVID-19 testing and vaccination services, the Learning Bridges program, and critical seasonal training. Please visit our Recreation Centers page to find an alternate recreation center.

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