The Staten Island Expressway is often used as the dividing line between Staten Island's North Shore and Mid-Island sections. The land for this expressway was acquired by the City of New York during the middle of the twentieth century. After its completion, it was found that there was much unused land that had been obtained for the construction of the expressway. As a result, many parcels of land were transferred over to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, who developed many parks using the vacant land.
In 1958, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation had obtained almost seven acres of this land in the neighborhood of Willowbrook, below the completed Staten Island Expressway. This site, as well as land surrounding it, remained undeveloped for over a decade. Eventually, streets were installed and housing was constructed around the plot of land. These new features gave the site boundaries: Gannon Avenue South became the northern boundary, Westwood Ave. became the southern boundary, Woodward Avenue became the western boundary, and Woolley Avenue became the eastern boundary. Even as the surrounding area began to be developed, the site remained untouched.
Finally, in 1973, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation teamed up with the Sunrise Hill Civic Association to create a park for children to play in. This park, which had been one of the first to be established by both the City and the community, became known as Sunrise Hill Park. At its completion, the park featured many recreational facilities, including a children's basketball court and play equipment. It also housed tables and benches surrounded by trees.
Shortly after its opening, the facilities installed in the park were damaged by young residents of the community. The facilities were soon removed from the park and trees began to grow on the site again. These trees were the only things standing in the park by 1980. Prominent among the tree species found here are pin oak, sugar maple, and sweetgum trees. Later in the century, New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Henry J. Stern renamed the park as Westwood Park, after one of its bordering streets.Posted by Anthony Licciardello on