Strong Street Playground
What was here before?
This site was once part of the estate of Frederick William Devoe (1828-1913), a paint manufacturer and banker. In addition to founding F.W. Devoe & C.T. Reynolds Company, he was the Director of the Market and Fulton Bank. He was known to contribute to cultural institutions such as the New York Botanical Gardens and the New-York Historical Society.
How did this site become a playground?
The City of New York first acquired this property by condemnation in 1895 as part of the creation of the Jerome Park Reservoir. The Bronx Parks Department received jurisdiction in three parcels: in 1913, 1931, and 1934. The playground opened in 1935 with paddle tennis, seesaws, swings, and a shower basin.
In 2023, the park was rebuilt and includes multigenerational play areas, spray showers, and safety surfaces.
Who is this playground named for?
William L. Strong (1827-1900) was the last mayor of New York City before the consolidation of the five boroughs. He was a millionaire who ran a reform administration, appointing Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) police commissioner, enforcing blue laws (which banned the sale of alcohol on Sunday), and distributing city appointments across party lines. Though his politics would ultimately cost him reelection, he opposed the corruption of the Tammany Hall political machine. He was also the first mayor to recognize the important difference between the destitute and the criminal, initiating the establishment of a separate Corrections Department. During his administration (1895-1897), the city annexed the part of the Bronx east of the Bronx River though Strong was a vocal opponent of the consolidation of Greater New York. The bill passed despite his veto and took effect in 1898.