Seward Park



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Seward Park has the distinction of being the first municipally built playground in the United States. Seward Park Playground is a public park and playground in the Lower East Side of the New York City borough of Manhattan, north of East Broadway, east of Essex Street.
When Seward Park opened, it featured a large running track encircling a play area with a children's garden. The Seward Park Branch of the New York Public Library was built in the southeastern part of Seward Park.
The playground is named for William Henry Seward, a United States Senator from New York who served from 1849-1861 and later went on to be Secretary of State in the Lincoln administration. Seward Park was built on a condemned piece of property purchased in 1897, former site of the Ludlow Street Jail. New York City lacked the funds to do anything with it, so The Outdoor Recreation League (ORL), a playground and recreation advocacy group that built playgrounds in the undeveloped parks using temporary facilities and equipment, built Seward Park as the first permanent, municipally built playground in the United States.
Opened on October 17, 1903, Seward Park was built with cinder surfacing, fences, a recreation pavilion, and children's play and gymnastic equipment. Seward Park became a model for future playground architecture.
In the 1930s and 1940s, Seward Park was reconstructed. A piece of land was returned to the City. The Schiff Fountain, donated by Jacob H. Schiff, was moved from a nearby park and placed in Seward Park.
In 1999, Seward received a much needed renovation. Some of the original 1903 plans were restored.