Stop & Go Playground
Red Light Park
These two lots were assigned to the Parks Department by the Department of General Services Division of Real Property in 1980 for development as part of the South Bronx Open Space Project. The southern site, off East 175th Street, was originally cleared to make way for a new school, adjacent to the existing P.S. 59 on the east side of the property. When school officials decided not to build, the two lots were reassigned to Parks for use as a playground and sitting area in 1997.
The site was commonly known as Bathgate Playground or the Cross-Bronx Temporary Playground until 1999, when it was renamed Red Light Park. To the east of the park is Bathgate Avenue. Its name serves as a reminder of Alexander Bathgate's extensive farm, which stretched approximately 140 acres through Morrisania in the 19th century. Morrisania was an area of the Bronx created when the Manorlands of the Morris family were divided, and villages were laid out from this property. The farmland that Bathgate Avenue now runs through was conveyed by Gouverneur Morris II to his three sons in 1847 and later sold to the city in 1883. Crotona Park and portions of Tremont Park were carved from this land. At one time, Bathgate Avenue was a fashionable, tree-lined route, known alternatively as Cross Street and Madison Avenue.
Before its use as a playground, this site was a parking lot surrounded by a chain link fence. In 1992 community support generated a master plan for the construction of a new playground with the help of Baratloo-Balch Architects and Quennell Rothschild Associates. In 1997 Council Member Jose Rivera funded a $1,155,000 capital reconstruction project with the 1992 master plan as the initial phase. The project installed wood and steel benches, concrete game tables, picnic tables, a flagpole, a bronze north arrow, a spray shower, and steel play equipment. The surrounding fencing features steel bird silhouettes, including the chickadee, sparrow, hummingbird, robin, cardinal, and woodpecker. The vegetable garden was planted by and named for Charles W. Cooke. Created from an old parking lot, Red Light Park demonstrates how the dedication of a community can inspire action.