Having last visited Saw Mill Playground in the South Bronx in 2016, I returned to the site to take a closer look at its neighbor, Brook Park. Both of these parks commemorate in their names the long-buried Mill Brook.
The stream was entirely covered in the 19th century, with its most visible surface reminder being Brook Avenue. At 141st Street, the community garden known as Brook Park also remembers the stream although it does not lie directly atop the former stream bed.
As mentioned before, many of the city’s expressways and parkways were built atop or alongside waterways as their shorelines were usually undeveloped and less steep than the surrounding landscapes. The parkway is a New York institution, pioneered by Olmsted as a road lined with generous parkland on either side, shielding neighborhoods from traffic, creating green space for local residents, and a visually pleasant setting for travelers.
Mosholu Parkway‘s name is believed to originate from the Lenape term for “smooth stones” in reference to a stream. Did a brook ever flow on the path of this parkway? Continue reading
In October 2014, Mayor Bill De Blasio and Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver announced a program, the Community Parks Initiative (CPI) to expedite the reconstruction of 35 under-served community parks across the city that have not seen repairs in a long time, and located in densely developed neighborhoods with low-income populations. Among the nine parks selected in the Bronx that year, Saw Mill Playground has a history and name related to a hidden stream that once flowed near the property, Mill Brook.
Completed in 1974 as a schoolyard for P.S. 49, now the Mario Salvadori School (M.S. 222), the park offered very little permeable surface. It was a paved lot with no connection to Mill Brook until 1987, when Parks Commissioner Henry J. Stern gave the playground its name. Continue reading