Willow Lake Playground

Willow Lake Playground

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

Willow Lake Playground draws its name from nearby Willow Lake in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. Willow Lake, like adjacent Meadow Lake, was created by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) for the 1939-40 World’s Fair. Willow Lake’s surface area originally measured 47 acres, but after the 1964 World’s Fair the lake began to revert to the wetland from which it had been created. In 1976, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation designated it a protected freshwater wetland. 

A willow is any plant belonging to the genus Salix, with buds, catkins, and spear-shaped leaves. The Willow Lake Natural Area features the white willow, the goat willow, the weeping willow, and the pussy willow. Thanks to this varied vegetation, the Willow Lake area is a popular spot for bird lovers.

Willow Lake Playground serves the neighborhood of Forest Hills in Queens. Forest Hills was once farmland owned by Frederick Backus, George Backus, and Horatio N. Squires.  Its name is derived from its proximity to Forest Park, and much of the development in Forest Hills was a result of the opening of the Long Island Rail Road station in 1906, as well as trolley service along Queens Boulevard. 

The site of Willow Lake Playground, located on Grand Central Parkway between 71st Avenue and 72nd Avenue, was acquired on June 14, 1951 by condemnation, and the playground opened on May 17, 1955. Willow Lake Playground was the 634th playground to be constructed during Robert Moses’ 26-year term as Parks Commissioner. Located next to P.S. 196, NYC Parks and the Department of Education jointly operate this playground, which serves the school as well as the surrounding neighborhood.

In 2004, NYC Parks completed a renovation here that included the installation of steel play equipment and safety surfacing, a new basketball backstop, kindergarten swings, new benches, and game tables.

Park Information

Directions to Willow Lake Playground


  • Willow Lake Playground

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