Twenty-Four Sycamores Park

24 Sycamores Playground

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

The 24 Sycamores Playground is located at York Avenue, between East 60th and 61st Streets. The site consists of land formerly underwater and property once owned by the Standard Oil Company of New York (Socony). In 1943 Parks Commissioner Robert Moses suggested that the land be transferred to the Parks Department because the area was lacking "active recreation facilities." The majority of the property (.525 acre) was surrendered by the Commissioner of Marine and Aviation and transferred to Parks on March 11, 1943. The remaining piece of the property (.097 acre) was bought by Parks from Socony on August 13, 1943.

The playground was built in the mid-1940s. It cost $45,000 and included an open area for roller skating, a pipe frame exercise unit, a slide, a sand pit, seesaws, swings, and a shower basin at the north end of the park. In addition, a handball court and a comfort station were built. Both of these features remain today. In the spring of 1975 a portion of the playground was closed to the public due to the construction of the Roosevelt Island Aerial Tramway Tower #2.

Until 1985 the playground was unnamed. But when a real estate developer sought to raze the site as part of a highrise building project, the playground was given its present name by Commissioner Henry J. Stern. The name "24 Sycamores" is a protective measure, letting prospective developers know that the trees have been carefully counted, and their destruction will not go undetected.In 1995 a renovation program planted two new sycamore trees, but even though the park now has 26 sycamores, its name remains the same.

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