"Uncle" Vito F. Maranzano Glendale Playground
Glendale Playground bears the name of its neighborhood in west central Queens. In 1860 George S. Schott acquired property in the area known as Fresh Pond and renamed it for his birthplace in Glendale, Ohio. Within a decade real estate developer John C. Schooley surveyed the land and laid out blocks and streets. With the arrival of the South Side Railroad in 1867 and steam-powered transportation in 1893, row houses and single-family residences gradually displaced local farms. Nonetheless, nearby cemeteries, such as Cypress Hills (opened in 1848) and All Saints (1852) retain some of Glendale’s rural landscape. During the first half of the 20th century, the neighborhood attracted a substantial German immigrant population and new industries, such as breweries, airplane manufacturers, textile factories, and film studios. More recently, immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia have settled in the area.
The Glendale Playground site was probably farmland for much of the 19th century. In 1885, the Newtown Board of Education opened School #13, the Glendale Union Free School. A larger school building was erected on the site in 1893. When the five boroughs were incorporated in 1898, the school came under the jurisdiction of the City of New York Board of Education and was renamed P.S. 67. Its principal from 1893 to 1915 was John Wesley Drumm (1862-1930), for whom nearby Drumm Triangle is named. After P.S. 91 was built a few blocks to the east in 1915, the P.S. 67 building provided facilities for students with disabilities and later served as an annex for Bushwick and Grover Cleveland High Schools.
In 1940-41 Parks acquired the school property and an adjacent parcel for a new playground, which opened in 1942. On the cleared site, laborers from the Federal Works Projects Administration built handball and basketball courts, a softball diamond, swings, slides, seesaws, a jungle gym, a comfort station, and a free play area. The workers also planted shade trees along the perimeter to screen the playground from activity on the street.
In 1996, Council Member Thomas V. Ognibene funded a $912,600 renovation of the playground. Improvements made in 1997-98 include new play structures, repaved handball courts, concrete perimeter sidewalks and stairs, basketball backstops, benches, fences, drinking fountains, a water supply system, and trees. The playground’s decorative theme was inspired by the sea. The playground features whale, dolphin, and fish figures mounted on a wall, a concrete whale play animal, whales and wave patterns of colored concrete, and a shower that sprays water from whale blowholes.