Thomas J. Travers Park
What was here before?
From the 1700s to the 1900s, this was a vast and rural area known as Trains Meadow. In 1909, Edward A. MacDougall’s Queensboro Corporation bought 325 acres of undeveloped land and named the area Jackson Heights after John C. Jackson (1809-1899), a respected businessman and well-known citizen of Queens County.
How did this site become a park?
In 1948, the City of New York acquired the site by condemnation to provide much-needed parkland for a booming population. It opened the following year as Jackson Heights Park with athletic facilities, basketball courts, and a skating rink that turned into an ice rink in the wintertime. It was updated in 1995 to include spray showers, game tables, and multigenerational play equipment.
In 2020, the park was rebuilt to include a great lawn, surrounded with flowering trees, benches, and a performance area with stadium seating. An expanded play area features equipment for all age groups with a multi-purpose area for open play. The expanded plaza at 78th Street allows for seamless access from 77th Street to 79th Street.
Who is this park named for?
This park was renamed for Thomas J. Travers (1897-1958), a prominent Queens Democrat and Jackson Heights community leader. Born and raised in Manhattan, he attended St. Agnes Church and Parochial School and MacDowell Lyceum. After serving in the U.S. Navy during World War I, he returned to New York to marry his childhood sweetheart, Ann Desmond.
They settled in Jackson Heights, where Travers took an active part in the social and political life of the community. In addition to his involvement with St. Joan of Arc Church, the Catholic Youth Organization, and the Jackson Heights Sandlot Baseball League, he was an active member of the Jackson Heights Taxpayers Association and the Queens Chamber of Commerce. During World War II, he worked on three War Loans Committees and chaired the Jackson Heights Committee for the New York War Fund. He served as Democratic District Leader for Woodside-Jackson Heights from 1940 until his death in 1958.
Directions to Travers Park
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