Watson Gleason Playground

Watson Gleason Playground

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

In 1938 the City of New York acquired the entire block bounded by Watson, Noble, Gleason, and Rosedale Avenues. Designed by the Parks Department and built with labor provided by the Work Projects Administration (WPA), the playground opened one-and-one-half years later. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses presided at the dedication ceremony, which featured Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, Borough President James J. Lyons, Acting WPA Administrator Major Edmond H. Leary, and President Roderick Stephens of the Bronx Borough of Trade.

The large site contained a children's playground, comfort station, roller-skating area, softball diamonds, and courts for volleyball, basketball, handball, and shuffleboard. Watson Gleason Playground is not named for one person but for two people-and two streets. Born in Scarborough, England in 1849, William Watson owned a substantial amount of land in the Bronx. His estate, known as "Wilmount," extended from the Bronx River at West Farms Square, across Westchester Avenue to Bruckner Boulevard.

After Watson's death, his estate was divided into lots and streets. Manor Avenue (six blocks west of the park) was named for his house, and Watson Avenue, south of the park, was named for the owner. Local landowner Joseph J. Gleason held property east of Westchester Avenue approximately from Olmstead to Beach Avenues. Supposedly he was a gambler who invested his winnings in real estate, and the street to the north of the playground is named for him. Noble Avenue, to the west, and Rosedale Avenue, to the east also have interesting origins. The namesake of the former street may have been a colonial-era landowner named Robert Noble or a late-19th-century city engineer named Alfred Noble. Rosedale was the name of the estate owned by Hudson P. Rose near St. Lawrence Avenue.

Council Member Lucy Cruz funded Watson Gleason Playground's $688,000 capital reconstruction, which was completed in 1999. The renovated playground features new swings, play equipment, game tables, and benches. Drinking fountains, safety surfacing, and security lighting enhance the utility and safety of the site, while new trees and shrubs add greenery. The spray shower is decorated with images of roses, and three rabbit play sculptures invite children to hop on.

Park Information

Directions to Watson Gleason Playground

  • Watson Gleason Playground

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