The City acquired the land that is now Spirit Playground on June 18, 1963, when Mayor Robert F. Wagner (1910-1991) condemned it. At the time, two- and three-story buildings in poor condition, housing thirty-five families and ten commercial tenants occupied the land. Wagner felt this particular Long Island City neighborhood was lacking adequate educational and recreational facilities, deeming the buildings for Public Schools 1 and 83 insufficient (constructed in 1898 and 1904, respectively). The City immediately drew up plans to construct a new public school, P.S. 76, and an accompanying playground, which would be jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education.
An advocate of this new school location indicated that it was an excellent site because it would render the school “accessible to the children living in the Queensview West and Ravenswood Housing developments and would permit a greater measure of integration in the new school.” So, in 1969, Public School 76 opened to students. In addition to Queensview West and Ravenswood, another large contingent of the student body comes from the nearby Queensbridge housing community. Students from kindergarten through sixth grade attend P.S. 76.
Construction of Spirit Playground was completed on November 14, 1969, at a cost of $144,102. Vollmer Associates designed the playground and Peter K. Kelly Contracting Corporation of Jamaica, Queens constructed it. Spirit Playground includes slides, a sand pit, a drinking fountain, and a comfort station. The playground officially opened on June 2, 1970, when Parks Commissioner August Heckscher hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony at P.S. 76 Playground.
On February 21, 1997, Parks Commissioner Stern renamed this park Spirit Playground after the “spirit of P.S. 76” and Mayor Wagner’s inspiration. Equipped with basketball courts, handball courts, an open play area, a jungle gym, swings, a comfort station, a water fountain, benches, and London plane trees (Platanus acerifolia), this playground serves as an essential recreational facility for P.S. 76 and the surrounding community.