On this 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, let’s celebrate important NYC women and important women of history with connections to NYC by visiting the NYC parks, gardens, playgrounds and a reservoir named for women.
The impressive list includes two First Ladies, a Revolutionary War heroine, an Olympic swimming champion, several social and science pioneers, the mother of a British Prime Minister, the first African-American woman to be elected to Congress, and the first person to win two Nobel Prizes, a woman.
Quite a group! There’s at least one in each borough named for a woman who changed NYC, even the world.
NYC plans to erect statues in the next few years to prominent New York City women, who are sadly under-represented among NYC statues and monuments – only five of 150 monuments in NYC are to women.
The program She Built NYC seeks to correct that. See the nominees here, including crusading journalist Nellie Bly, urban planner Jane Jacobs and Emily Warren Roebling, who helped her husband build the Brooklyn Bridge.
Until the final decision is made, you can visit these NYC parks and gardens already named for prominent NYC women.
With just a few exceptions, these noteworthy women were born in NYC or lived here for much of their lives.
All of us modern women can be grateful for, and inspired by, their contributions.
Here they are alphabetically, by borough, since that’s the only fair way to recognize these great women recognized by the NYC Parks Dept:
NYC Parks Named for Women: Bronx
The earliest woman figure honored with a park or playground is Egyptian ruler Cleopatra (69 BC-30 BC).
The Bronx playground named for her is based on the site’s proximity to Anthony Avenue, which was named more than a century ago for a prominent local Bronx family, and not for Cleopatra’s lover Mark Antony, or even for Latin entertainer Mark Anthony, a former husband of Jennifer Lopez, also known as “Jenny from the Bronx”.
The street name sparked the imagination of then Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern, who renamed the playground for her in 1997.
Jennie Jerome Playground in the Bronx is named for Jeanette Jerome (1854-1921), who was born in Brooklyn and lived in NYC until she married Lord Randolph Churchill and became Lady Churchill.
Jerome bore two sons, one of whom was Winston Churchill, who would become Prime Minister of England and bravely guide that country through World War II with his alliy, US President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Read further for the NYC parks in Manhattan named for FDR’s mother, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and for his wife, Eleanor Roosevelt, in Brooklyn.
Jerome Avenue in the Bronx is named for Jennie Jerome’s father, a prominent local businessman.
NYC Parks Named for Women: Brooklyn
Shirley Chisholm Circle at Brower Park
In 2016, a paved, circular terrace in Brower Park was named after Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm (1924–2005). She was a tireless champion of equal rights and access to high quality education.
Shirley Chisholm was an educator, social rights advocate and celebrated politician known as the first African-American woman elected to the U.S. Congress and first major party African-American candidate to run for President of the United States.
She represented New York’s 12th Congressional District for seven terms from 1969-1983.
Eleanor Roosevelt Park
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was born in New York City in 1884.
The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt and the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ms. Roosevelt distinguished herself in her own right during and after his presidency.
As a worldwide spokesperson, lecturer, and news columnist, she championed the causes of peace, of social reform and racial equality.
Eleanor Roosevelt is honored with a playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant and also a monument in Manhattan’s Riverside Park.
Her uncle, Teddy Roosevelt was the first US President born in New York City. His birthplace, at 28 East 20th St. is a National Historic Site.
East River State Park, a seven-acre waterfront green space in Williamsburg, has been formally renamed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in tribute to Marsha P. Johnson, a trailblazing LGBTQ activist, drag performer, sex worker, model, and ubiquitous downtown Manhattan presence fondly remembered as “The Mayor of Christopher Street.”
Johnson, who was born in New Jersey and passed awayin 1992 at the age of 46, was a tireless crusader in the gay liberation movement, and is known for her role in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969 and as a founding member of the Gay Liberation Front, ACT UP activist and co-founder of the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (S.T.A.R.) along with Sylvia Rivera. She self-identified as a gay man and a drag artist during her lifetime.
In Gravesend, Brooklyn, Lady Moody Triangle honors Lady Deborah Moody (ca.1583-1659), a wealthy, Protestant widow who left England for America in 1639, and in 1645 and settled in Brooklyn.
Modern women can be proud of her contributions:
Lady Deborah Moody founded the town of Gravesend, naming it after her hometown in the Old World, became the first woman in the New World to receive a land patent, to write the first town charter in English in New Netherland, and to establish one of the first towns with a square block plan in the New World.