McCarren Park


"McCarren Park", Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Park

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation

Nassau Avenue, Bayard, Leonard and North 12 Streets


Acres: 35.71

Park Description:

A park equally valued and cherished in Greenpoint and Williamsburg, McCarren Park is the site of endless games of kickball, soccer, baseball, bocce, handball, basketball, football, and tennis, not to mention running meets and playground antics. It is 35 acres of bustling activity, shared by families born into the neighborhood, recent immigrants, and young renters. All of the parks' constituents share a passion for its fields and paths and anticipate future developments within the park with hope and excitement.

Patrick Henry McCarren (1847-1909) was born in East Cambridge, Massachusetts to a family of Irish immigrants. He moved to Williamsburgh (now part of Brooklyn) where he attended school before learning the cooper's trade and working in sugar refineries along the waterfront. McCarren rose through the ranks of the Brooklyn Democratic Party to win election to the State Assembly in 1881 and the State Senate in 1889. Frequently caricatured and attacked by the New York press, his reputation as a friend of trusts made him an unpopular figure as the Populist movement gained strength in the state. Besides politics, his chief passion was gambling, particularly at the racetrack.

In 1909, the year of McCarren's death, the Board of Aldermen named this park in his memory. The site, previously known as Greenpoint Park, was divided into four blocks by street railroad lines. All four parcels were acquired by the City of New York between 1903 and 1905. Two playgrounds with outdoor gymnastic apparatus were developed almost immediately: one for boys at the corner of Bedford and North 14th Streets and one for girls at the corner of Manhattan and Driggs Avenues.

Three developments in the 1910s transformed McCarren Park into a community showplace. The park was supplied with state-of-the-art athletic facilities, including a ¼-mile track, a field that was adapted for use as an ice rink in winter, tennis courts, a platform for dancing, play equipment for small children, and fields for baseball, football, and soccer. In 1914 Brooklyn's first children's farm garden opened on the site. During the first season 240 "little farmers" tended 120 8' x 4' plots and nurtured radishes, beets, carrots, beans, onions, lettuce, and corn. By 1915 the "Farm House" shelter at the garden was put into use as a social center where clubs and church groups met.

McCarren Pool was the eighth of eleven giant pools built by the Works Progress Administration to open during the summer of 1936. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia attended the dedication on July 31, 1936. With an original capacity for 6800 swimmers, the pool served as the summertime social hub for Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The building's vast scale and dramatic arches, designed by Aymar Embury II, typify the generous and heroic spirit of New Deal architecture. The pool was closed in 1984. Several areas within and around McCarren Park are named in memory of heroes who laid down their lives for their people.

These include T. Raymond Nulty Square (for a World War I soldier), Patrolman Stephen Gilroy Field (for a police officer killed in the line of duty), and Father Jerzy Popieluzsko Square (for a Polish priest martyred by the Communists). For generations, neighborhood residents and park advocacy groups have mobilized community support for the maintenance and improvement of McCarren Park. Their initiatives have resulted in many improvements and increased activities, and have sustained McCarren Park as a social and recreational hub for the community.

Source: NYC Parks (




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