DeWitt Clinton Park



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DeWitt Clinton Park is a 5.8-acre (23,000 m2) New York City public park in the Hell's Kitchen, New York neighborhood between West 52nd Street and 54th Street (Manhattan) and Eleventh Avenue (Manhattan) and the West Side Highway in Manhattan.
DeWitt Clinton Park which was one of the first New York City parks in Manhattan on the working waterfront of the Hudson River is named for DeWitt Clinton who had created a business boom of Hudson commerce when he opened the Erie Canal.
It is the biggest New York City park in the neighborhood and since 1959 the neighborhood has frequently been referred to as "Clinton." It is the only park on the west side of Manhattan to have lighted ball fields.
DeWitt Clinton Park was the first community garden in New York City.

DeWitt Clinton Park's original 1901 design by Samuel Parsons Jr. encompassed a bigger park that was much less developed than the current park. DeWitt Clinton Park was dramatically altered by the construction of the New York Passenger Ship Terminal on its west side. Since Navy requirements set length limits on piers, the city was able to lengthen the piers by removing land from Manhattan so that longer piers could be built that would not extend beyond the Navy limits.
In the shrinking of land, a 250-foot (76 m) wide swath on the west of DeWitt Clinton Park was removed in the 1930s for the Terminal and West Side Elevated Highway.

Parsons described DeWitt Clinton Park Original design:
DeWitt Clinton Park is a children's play-ground situated on the banks of the Hudson River, bounded on the west by Twelfth Ave., on the south by 52nd Street, on the east by Eleventh Ave., and on the north by 54th Street, between nine and 10 acres (40,000 m2) in extent. This park is specially well arranged for the introduction of play-grounds. The borders on three sides are more or less steep and through the center extends a level plateau which has been made more level by grading. Walks wind up from all the four corners and at two intermediate points on one side and one on the other. The steepness of the ground makes it possible to produce a picturesque, park-like effect of trees and shrubs over a large extent of the territory. Natural rocks appear in several places throughout its surface. A broad path leads from the center of DeWitt Clinton Park on Eleventh Ave. to a gymnasium ground surrounded by trees; and in front of this, on an undulating lawn of its own, is a fine music stand. Beyond this a farm garden for children has been established and five hundred or more little ones from this neighborhood farm their little plots throughout the season. Beyond this, in turn, on a high, steep bank overlooking the Hudson, extends a long pergola or arbor beneath which are rooms used as night schools by the farm children, where they are taught domestic economy.

DeWitt Clinton Park's Current design unobstructed views of the Hudson River and New Jersey Palisades have been affected by the construction of the New York Passenger Terminal (although a sidewalk along a sycamore lined curved path on the west side side is a popular vantage point for viewing cruise ships at the terminal). The children's garden was removed in 1932. The undulating lawn, music stands, and lengthy arbor have been removed. In their place is a fenced in lighted area for three baseball fields, an asphalt basketball and handball courts and a children's playground as well as a dog park.
The fourth Internalional Quidditch Association's World Cup was held in DeWitt Clinton Park November 13–14, 2010.
In 1930 a sculpture Flanders Field Memorial featuring a doughboy by Burt Johnson, a brother-in-law of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, was dedicated in DeWitt Clinton Park. Johnson also designed a similar statue in Doughboy Park in Woodside, Queens.
The gardens were discontinued in 1932 when 250-foot (76 m) wide swath on the west side of DeWitt Clinton Park was removed to be used as part of the West Side Elevated Highway. The removed earth was transported to Central Park where it was used to fill in the Lower Reservoir for what would become DeWitt Clinton Park's Great Lawn. DeWitt Clinton Park's unobstructed views of the Hudson were further diminished with the construction in 1935 of the New York Passenger Ship Terminal.
In 1959 residents sought to soften the Hell's Kitchen and decided to name the neighborhood after the park.
In the 1980s and 1990s the area around DeWitt Clinton Park had little residential population and it developed a reputation as an outpost for illegal drug use and homeless encampments. In October 1986 three teenagers murdered a homeless man in DeWitt Clinton Park with a kitchen knife.
Various attempts to clean DeWitt Clinton Park included an instance in 1995 a German company set up a tent for seven months on the lawn for a dinner show production of Pomp Duck and Circumstance. The company promised to pay $100,000 for improvements to DeWitt Clinton Park. The dinner show was intensely opposed by residents objected to commercialization of the neighborhood lone major park (Hell's Kitchen is the jurisdiction of Community Board 4 which ranked 57th out of 59 Community Boards for open space in New York City). Following the dinner show DeWitt Clinton Park was extensively renovated with a new Erie Canal Playground designed around a granite outcropping. Other changes included new fencing and gates so that DeWitt Clinton Park could be locked at night. A dog park was added to a converted Bocce court.
In 1998, legislation passed creating the 550-acre (2.2 km2) Hudson River Park across the West Side Highway from DeWitt Clinton Park along the Hudson River between 59th Street (Manhattan) and Battery Park. The new park is a joint New York City and New York State park whereas the DeWitt Clinton Park is a city park. Currently there is no direct connection between the two parks. The New York Passenger Terminal is built along the entire west side.
In 2005, ENK International Trade Events applied to erect a tent for two weeks in September over the handball and basketball courts in exchange for some minor repairs to DeWitt Clinton Park facilities for a Fashion week event. After a subcommittee approved it, a storm of protest prompted the Community Board to veto it.