In 1904, a public school was erected on Pleasant Avenue in the area then known as Bogardus Corners-today's Rossville. On June 28, 1939, the two-classroom school, which was known as P.S. 31, was given over to the New York Citydavis_park_final_400 Board of Estimate. However, by August 25 of that same year, the New York City Board of Education reclaimed the site so that it could be used to store furniture. Being too small to store furniture while still operating as a school, the school closed down.  It wasn't until the middle of the twentieth century that a new building was constructed for P.S. 31. This building, however, was located quite far from the original site. Today, it is located at the northern tip of Staten Island, in the neighborhood of St. George.

On January 22, 1945, Staten Island faced the death of one of their most beloved residents: William T. Davis. Davis was known by many for different accomplishments. First and foremost, he was a naturalist. He was very much involved in the exploration of Staten Island's environment and nature. Others knew William T. Davis as the local historian who always had time to hear about residents' memories and stories.

Everybody, however, knew him as an author. Not only did he catalogue the flora and fauna of Staten Island; he also chronicled the history of the Island in Staten Island and Its People, along with co-author Charles W. Leng.

P.S. 31, which is located at 55 Layton Avenue, was named the William T. Davis School, in honor of the famed Staten Islander. In 1969, the William T. Davis School was given a playground, which would be managed by both the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and the New York City Board of Education. At the time of its erection, the playground was known interchangeably as the Public School 31 Playground and the William T. Davis School Playground. In 1985, the name was changed simply to Davis Playground.

For years, Davis Playground was merely a yard of asphalt that was in major disrepair. In 2004, New York City Council Member Michael McMahon took a tour of the school and vowed to repair the playground once money was available. That day came on July 14, 2006, when ground was broken on the site. Early on in 2008, construction was completed on the new Davis Playground. On November 7 of that year, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined City Council Member Michael McMahon on the now-even ground of Davis Playground for the cutting of the ribbon.

Today, Davis Playground is more than just an area of roughly one acre where children could run around. Now they can do that and more. Since the playground equipment has been replaced, the children can once again enjoy playing on the jungle gym, monkey bars, and slide. Parents can also enjoy keeping an eye on their children from the benches which line the playground. On the ground surrounding the play unit, children also enjoy playing in the spray showers, using jump ropes, and using chalk to play hopscotch and other such games. In addition to the renovation that had taken place at this site, Davis Playground was given a basketball court, on which children also enjoy playing.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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