Sunday, November 20, 2016

Central Park's Lost Playground

When Samuel and I did our Central Park Playground Challenge (running through sprinklers at every Central Park West playground from 100th Street to 81st Street), I wondered why there was such a big gap with no playgrounds between 81st and 67th Streets.

I found a map that indicated there had once been a playground just north of West 77th Street.

Like most Central Park playgrounds, it had been constructed in the 1930s by controversial city planner Robert Moses--some say as a way to keep kids within enclosed areas of concrete and chain link fence where they couldn't wreak havoc on the rest of the park.

But there are enough people bashing Robert Moses that we don't need to pile on.

Suffice it to say that there was supposedly a playground north of West 77th Street.

Notice I said supposedly.

I searched the city library archives to find a photo, and the only one I found was this mangled, spider-webby image:

I tried to mentally locate it and I couldn't. I recognized the church, the Kenilworth at 151 CPW, and the San Remo at 146 CPW. But something looked wrong. The problem: they were in the wrong order.

Flipping the picture gave me this image:


But that's not north of West 77th Street, as indicated by the map. It's south of West 77th Street.

Here's what it looks like today:

Here's the old photo superimposed over the new:

Mystery solved. Long live playgrounds. Long live Central Park.

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