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Southwest Playground

Located at Broadway and Van Cortlandt Park South, in the southwest corner of Van Cortlandt Park, this playground opened in 1939 as part of the Van Cortlandt Stadium complex.

In the 1990s, Council Member June M. Eisland funded a $1.4 million renovation of the entire southwest corner of the park, including the playground and Kingsbridge Green.  Combined, this area offers today’s park visitors play equipment with safety surfacing, swings, benches, game tables, drinking fountains, a spray shower, asphalt ballfield, landscaping, and a statue of a coyote at the formal entrance to the park.

The Van Cortlandt Park Conservancy hopes to design these fields for wheelchair softball and football use.

Early History

The land around Southwest Playground, as well as the adjacent Kingsbridge Green, was originally a freshwater marsh. Tibbetts Brook, which runs south from Westchester to Van Cortlandt Lake, is one of the last remnants of the former marsh. Originally called Mosholu by an Algonquin Native American tribe that lived on the current Parade Ground site, Tibbetts Brook gets its most recent name from George Tippett, owner of land in Riverdale and Van Cortlandt Park in 1668.

Park Development and the WPA

Park construction was one of many projects undertaken by the Works Progress Administration, an unprecedented economic recovery program initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s and 40s, following the Great Depression. New York City secured significant WPA funding, some of which was directed toward construction of the Van Cortlandt Stadium. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses presided over the 1939 opening ceremonies, which included an exhibition football game between Manhattan College and Fordham University.  Athletes from these colleges and others continue to train and compete throughout Van Cortlandt Park.

In 1956, Commissioner Moses further developed the southwest section of Van Cortlandt Park for Major Deegan Expressway, which exits adjacent to the asphalt ballfield.