In the latter 1890s the Outdoor Recreation League (ORL) worked to bring arranged games to public playing areas. The ORL was pivotal in creating play areas in municipal parks and is crucial to history of Seward Park.
In 1897, the land that would one day become Seward Park was obtained by New York City. The ORL transformed the area into a playground, including a children's garden and a track for running. Opening on October 17, 1903, the park's other innovations including gymnastic equipment and recreation pavilion, marbe baths, and meeting rooms made it a model for future play areas across the nation.
The history of Seward Park continues in the 1930s and 1940s, when the park went through a series of transformations. A little of the park's east side was taken over by the NYC governent and utilized for street purposes. In 1936, the park acquired the Schiff fountain from Rutgers Park. The evolution was finished by the addition of horseshoe courts, more playgrounds, a basketball court and an area for roller and an ice skating area.
The 1950s saw more transformations in Seward Park history. As the encircling Lower East Side neighborhood grew, another section of the park was redeveloped by New York City. Many streets were closed and family homes were built to replace apartment buildings.
The existing history of Seward Park is indicated by a 1999 renovation that payed homage to the initial ORL plan. The park now has a central oval with a spray shower and map of the Lower East Side, period lighting and furniture, and quotations from local residents spanning the neighborhood's rich history. These changes brought the park the nearest to it's original 1903 appearance. With it's beautiful curving trails, sports facilities, plenty of benches, playgrounds, Seward Park is still a favorite place for residents of New York and travelers alike to play.
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