It's hard to find a person in America who has never heard of the World War One.  As a refresher course, I'll give you a little back story.  It all began on the 28th of July in 1914, when Austria-Hungary had invaded Serbia.  Soon, many other countries became involved and eventually, an enormous war broke out.  For roughly two and a half years, the United States stayed neutral during the war-even after Germany sank the Lusitania, a British ocean liner which was cwhite_playground_5_400arrying 128 Americans.  During the beginning of 1917, however, Germany sank several American ships heading toward Britain, knowing full well that it would result in the United States entering the war.  As you can imagine, that was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Up until 1918, roughly three million Americans were drafted into World War One.  In addition to these three million men, about two million joined the United States Army voluntarily to fight in the war.  One of these men was John Edward White, a resident of Staten Island in his early twenties. White was born in the Rosebank community and worked in the neighborhood of St. George for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  He lived on what was then known as Pennsylvania Avenue for most of his life, until he entered the war.  In 1918, after aiding his fellow soldiers at the French front, he succumbed to wounds he had received and passed away.

In 1934, the City of New York acquired many plots of land by the State of New York to be used for the purpose of recreation. In the Fort Wadsworth area, one of these sites was bordered by High Streetwhite_playground_1_400 to the north, Lyman Avenue to the south, and houses to the west and east.  The houses themselves are bounded by Summer Street and Bay Street, respectively.  The following year, in April of 1935, the City of New York assigned the site to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  After having been transformed into a park, the site was named "John E. White Playground", to commemorate the war hero who resided in the neighborhood.

John E. White Playground is a little less than an acre in size.  From High Street, you can enter the gated park and ascend a set of stairs.  These stairs will lead you to a concrete site which displays a flagpole.  On the other side of the park, over on Lyman Avenue, you will find the entrance to a swing set with a playground to the right of it.  You can also access this area by two sets of stairs separated by a grassy slope.  Lining the playground, you have several benches.  There are also white_playground_4_400spray showers next to the playground area and water fountains interspersed throughout the park.  These water fountains are among beautiful trees, such as the sweetgum tree and the London plane tree.

Many improvements were made to the park at the turn of the century.  Between July and November of 1998, the playground was given asphalt pavement.  Once that ended, work was done to provide the park with a chain link fence, guiderails, and a steel fence.  This was completed by the end of the year.  For about six months, beginning in December of 2000 and ending in June of 2001, more work was done on the fences.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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