We have funded the development and restoration of Central Park since our creation.
In 2021, we continued that tradition with a five-year commitment to underwrite the renovation of a playground on West 85th Street and Central Park West to be named the Smadbeck – Heckscher Playground at Seneca Village, serving tens of thousands of children each year.
With this renovation, we will have underwritten playgrounds at the most eastern, western, northern and southern reaches of the Central Park Conservancy’s stewardship. Our 1926 Heckscher Ballfields and Heckscher Playground anchors the Southernmost part of Central Park. We underwrote the completion of the Northern most playground in Central Park (at 110th Street) and serves the upper Manhattan community, the far West Side 70th Street Ball Field in 2009 which is located under the Westside Highway and the Ruth and Arthur Smadbeck -Heckscher East Playground at East 79th Street completed in 2011.
The playground that is the subject of our 2021 grant was constructed in the 1930s and is of particular significance due to its location at the historic center of Seneca Village, a site that, prior to the creation of Central Park, was home to a thriving community of free African American property owners. The restoration of the Playground will be undertaken in the context of broader planning for the area that historically encompassed Seneca Village and an independent but related effort to restore the site in a way that supports interpretation of the landscape and commemoration of the lives of those who inhabited this community and will provide a unique play experience for children in the 5-12 age group in particular. The Conservancy estimates that the restored playground will receive approximately 150,000 visits annually by about 15,000 children.