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Thomas Jefferson Park

East Harlem (El Barrio)

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This park was planned and named by the Board of Aldermen in 1894, though the land for it was not purchased until 1897. It opened on October 7, 1905 to provide organized play to the children of "Little Italy," as the crowded tenement district in East Harlem was then known. The park contained two playgrounds, two gymnasiums, baths, comfort stations, and a classical pavilion which provided shelter and recreation space. The structure stood at 112th Street and East River Drive until the 1970s when it was destroyed by vandals. A children’s farm garden, one of many which flourished in parks in the first half of the 20th century, opened on May 20, 1911 with 1008 plots for children to grow flowers and vegetables. Designed as a place of respite for child laborers, the farm garden later hosted nature study classes and, during the World Wars, provided a lesson in self-sufficiency for local children.

Sites & Attractions Parks & Outdoors Kids: Recreation Free Kids East Harlem (El Barrio)

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