Located between 11th and 12th Avenue, 52nd to 54th Street.
DeWitt Clinton Park, named after the governor and mayor of New York City, is the largest public park in Hell’s Kitchen.The Parks Department of New York City established this park in 1905, and it has endured extensive renovations to reach its current flourishing status. In the park, you can find a large field where many residents come to play sports such as football, soccer, baseball, and rugby. Erie Canal Playground tributes one of DeWitt Clinton’s accomplishments of building the Erie Canal.
As the first establishment for children in the neighborhood, children were immediately drawn to DeWitt Clinton Park. The landscape architect of the park, Samuel Parsons Jr., envisioned a recreational facility that featured a bathing pavilion, gymnasium, running track, playground, and garden. With the increase of children activity in the park, Frances Parsons, New York City’s first female park operator, began a program that educated them about the environment. This program inspired neighboring parks to establish similar programs. The park’s improvements were well off until 1927 when the park was required to shrink in size due to the construction of the Miller Highway. The bathing pavilion was removed and the construction ironically destroyed many parts of the park, which caused the popularity of the park to decrease.
In 1996, $635,000 was spent to renovate the park. A dog park, upgraded landscaping, and new bleachers and playground equipment were added in order to persuade people to visit the park. DeWitt Clinton Park was once again a popular location for families and children to occupy. Jane Jacobs states that one of the factors that contributes to a neighborhood’s success is the allocation of a space for children. The Erie Canal Playground in the park is a prime example of a place where children can spend time in and feel safe. The park is welcoming to children and adults, which contributes to its popularity. On a fair day, many adult sports leagues were playing soccer on the synthetic turf field, while young fathers were coaching their children in baseball and softball on the opposite side of the park.
DeWitt Clinton Park shows sign of rich historical background. On the south side of the park, a 1930 sculpture of a World War I “doughboy” – an infantryman – stands visibly and proudly. It commemorates the lost lives of young men in the war. The pedestal on which the monument stands displays a verse of John McCrae’s poem, In Flanders Fields.
A geographic monument is also present in DeWitt Clinton Park. Just inside the gates of Erie Canal Playground, a outcropping of a large boulder is seen. This outcropping has been tested and proved to be from the glacial ages and now acts as a play structure for children. However, this humble boulder is actually part of the Earth’s crust and is a sample of a divergent tectonic plate. One can climb on this smooth yet naturally sculpted rock to appreciate higher ground and more visibility of the park.
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“Clinton War Memorial (Doughboy).” Monuments. Web. <http://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/DeWittClintonPark/monuments/271>.
Minn, Michael. “DeWitt Clinton Park.” Dewitt Clinton Park. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://michaelminn.net/newyork/parks/dewitt_clinton_park/>.
“Ducking Work?” The Village Voice: 11. Jun 18 1996. ProQuest. Web. 21 Nov. 2013 .
Dunlap, David. “450 Million Years Ago, Hell’s Kitchen Earned Its Name.” New York Times. Web. 21 Nov. 2013. <http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/05/450-million-years-ago-hells-kitchen-earned-its-name/?_r=0>.