Terrace Playground

Terrace Playground

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

The City of New York acquired this property in 1951. That same year the Board of Estimate assigned the land to be jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education. Since then, the futures of the playground and the school have been intertwined.

This playground was first named P.S. 35 Playground when it opened in 1953 and in 1986 Commissioner Stern changed its name to Clove Valley Playground to match the neighboring school. The Commissioner changed the name again on September 25, 1996 to Terrace Playground, which accents the most striking feature of this property’s design: three tiers, cut into the adjoining hill and forming terraces designed for use by different age groups. They are separated by plantings and connected by stairways to offer children a sense of both privacy and continuity. The top tier is for the youngest children and the bottom level for the oldest. The lowest level also serves as the school’s playground.

Terrace Playground is bounded by Foote Avenue, Howard Avenue, and Martha Street. When it opened, the playground featured basketball and handball courts, shuffleboard and game tables, slides, swings, and see-saws. A later renovation installed a sand pit, a comfort station, benches, bike racks, and a shower basin, and the area was generously planted with trees and shrubs. Today, the lowest level includes half court basketball courts, kickball, and dodge ball areas. A maypole and a map of the United States are painted on the grounds. In a tradition that stretches back to the school’s founding, P.S. 35 holds a May Day event on the lower level of the playground every year. The middle level offers three full basketball courts. The topmost level features monkey bars, a jungle gym, swings and slides, a shower basin, benches, a flagpole, and a drinking fountain.

Students at Wagner College adopted Terrace Playground in 1997 and have volunteered here ever since, cleaning the playground and sponsoring events. In October, 2000, they organized a contest in which PS 35 students answered the question, “what should the playground look likeΑ” in essays and drawings. One item from the winning essay will be built on the grassy knoll.

In 1997 Borough President Guy Molinari funded new play equipment, handball courts, safety surfacing, and structural improvements in a $161,000 renovation. At that time, a plaque was added to commemorate the 1953 construction of Terrace Playground.

According to local historian Dorothy Valentine Smith, the neighborhood of Sunnyside was known as “the Clove” until an entrepreneur acquired a portion of the Vredenburg Estate, divided in 1889, and opened a boarding house called Sunnyside on the land that is currently the northwest corner of Clove Road and the Turnpike. He persuaded trolley drivers to announce “Sunnyside” when they passed by, and the name filtered into first colloquial and then official use. Apparently, the proprietor of Sunnyside had intended to open a roadhouse, but the neighboring property owners refused to approve the sale of liquor, a requisite formality at the time.

The name Clove, which appears in landmarks throughout the local neighborhood - Clove Valley, Clove Lake, Clove Lakes Park, Clove Road, and Clove Valley School - stems from the Dutch word kloven, for cleft. 20,000 years ago a glacier carved the valley forming a “cleft” between Emerson and Grimes Hills.

Park Information

Directions to Terrace Playground

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