By Sam Wang
Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Playground has been an iconic part of my childhood. Though it was rarely in a good condition, this used to be a place where I would meet all sorts of people and spend time with them. It was a place for me to actually socialize with my friends and play with kids that lived in the area. Suddenly, in March 2019, the park had been closed off. The park was placed under renovation, making changes to the design of the park. Finally, the park was reopened by November 2020.
This park has always been around since the mid-1900s and served as something like a landmark for the locals living in the area. However, the park had to go through a small series of events to be recognized as a park.
Going back to the 1600s, this land had an origin like no other. Reverend John Moore, one of the earliest settlers, built his first home in the village just off Broadway at St. James Avenue. After this house was gone, John Moore bought land from the Native Americans and granted his son, Captain Samuel Moore 80 acres of land with his house built in the center. This land, once known as Newtown, eventually became the city that we call Elmhurst. The Moore family lived in this house until the death of John Jacob Moore in 1879.
Eventually, Robert Moses, head of the Parks department had the empty land turned into a park by 1954. By 1987, the city government decided to rename the park, The Moore Homestead Playground in memory of the family that lived there (qchron.com). Thus, this park had become a famous landmark for Elmhurst as it is associated with its origin.
For how important this park is historically to the city of Elmhurst, it makes sense to keep this park in the best form it can be. For all the years it existed, this area continues to attract many people to spend some time there. So what did people think of this park in its previous condition?
For some people, Clement Clarke Moore Homestead Playground was still impressive despite how many years passed. After reminiscing about his childhood memory, local resident Darren Chen comments “I had often visited this park before the construction took place. I would go here to play so much as a child. The renovation didn’t seem necessary at all.” As someone who grew up in the area, it makes sense that Chen would be fond of how the park was originally designed. High school student, Anthony Lam also notes “This park is more of a play area rather than a park for walking and sightseeing which is very different from Flushing Meadow Park.”
Despite all the respect people give the park, there are bound to be some that completely disagree. Simrun Islam, another local resident in Elmhurst mentions “I live by the park but I don’t really stop by the park all too often. There just isn’t any reason to when there are other places.” Despite the fact that this park allows for all kinds of activities, there are more places in Elmhurst that many people can see. A resident of Flushing, Nelson Lin, argued “Although the environment is great, it’s like any other park that offers activities.”
Ultimately, the park has recently completed its renovation and the most people can do is see how they feel about it. What will people expect of this place when they find time to visit?
Changes to any local facility should always aim to benefit the community and it seems that this was the intention. The NYC Parks Department shows this when they claim “The goal of this project was to create more welcoming pedestrian entrances, increase ADA access, replace the outdated playground equipment, remove and even lower fencing around the park and provide flexible open space for community events.” The park had only five entrances around its perimeter despite being an incredibly large area. On top of that, Lam also expresses that the park was crowded when he went.
Along with the upgrade for the equipment, there is a support for new activities. The NYC Parks Department worked on adding a volleyball court and two ping pong tables to the lower level of the park. Through the addition of new sports, there is sure to be more attraction and reason to visit this park. Immediately after hearing this, Lam responds “As a Volleyball player, I look forward to the fact that they are adding courts to the park.” Lin also shares “As someone who wants to workout, I’m looking forward to the addition of a variety of sports.” The park was was used for its handball and basketball courts and the addition of two new sports is sure to welcome new visitors.
For its historical significance, it is important to be able to attract more people to the best of its ability. There are people who are clearly fond of this playground and want to see its success. Some people may prefer the original park while others may eventually accept the changes. Perhaps people should consider visiting this park. The renovation might mark this place as Elmhurst’s greatest landmark.