Spuyten Duyvil Playground
Spuyten Duyvil Playground
Spuyten Duyvil Playground has the same name as the adjacent public school, the nearby creek, and a neighborhood in the northwestern Bronx. There are two major theories concerning the origin of the Dutch name Spuyten Duyvil. According to the first, a trumpeter dispatched to the Bronx during the 1664 British invasion of New Amsterdam vowed to cross the turbulent creek "en spijt den Duyvil" (in spite of the Devil). The second is based on a 1647 reference to a gushing fountain that emptied into the creek, "Spuit den Duyvil" (Devil’s Spout) or to the creek itself (Devil’s Spate). At least fourteen different spellings of the name have been recorded, including those mentioned above and Speak Devil, Speight den Duyvil, Speit den Duyvil, Spike & Devil, Spiling Devil, Spilling Devil, Spitendeuval, Spitten Divil, Spittin Debell, Spitting Devil, and Spitton Divil.
Although Henry Hudson explored the area from the Half Moon in 1609, the property was not developed until the 1850s with the arrival of the Hudson River Railroad and the establishment of an iron foundry and stove factory by Elias Johnson and his partners. The Johnson interests had 170 acres surveyed and laid out as a village for workers and their families. Spuyten Duyvil’s first school opened in 1857, and it became School #46 when the Bronx joined New York City in 1874. A new school was built in 1890-91, and was redesignated P.S. 24 in 1903. Spuyten Duyvil’s population and residential construction grew substantially after World War I and again in the decades following World War II.
In 1950 the Board of Estimate acquired an undeveloped parcel of the former James Douglas estate for a school building and playground. The property was bounded by Independence Avenue, Douglas Avenue (named for the Bronx entrepreneur), and W.235th and W. 236th Streets (which were laid and paved around this time). The new Spuyten Duyvil School (P.S. 24) welcomed its first pupils in 1953, and the P.S. 24 playground opened to the public two years later. Operated jointly by the Board of Education and Parks, the playground featured three separate recreation areas. There were handball courts and a roller skating surface on one side; basketball courts and half-courts in the center; and a sandpit, kindergarten swings and slides, seesaws, wading pool, and a comfort station on the other side. New York City’s 641st playground was later named for Spuyten Duyvil.
Playground facilities were improved in 1998 with the completion of two requirements contracts funded by Council member June M. Eisland and Mayor Giuliani. The $240,497 renovation included new play equipment, asphalt paving, and safety surfacing as well as the reconstruction of the yardarm flagpole.