DeSalvio Playground is a neighborhood park located on the corner of Spring Street and Mulberry Street in NoLita, Manhattan, New York City. The playground has a modular playground that is red, white, and green (in honor of the Italian flag), built-in stone chess tables, a basketball court, and benches.
The park is honored by John DeSalvio (1881–1948) and his son Louis DeSalvio (1910–2004). John DeSalvio, a first-generation American, served as District Leader of the Second Assembly District (West) and was one of the few Italian-Americans in the Tammany Hall political organization. Louis DeSalvio served as New York State Assembly Member of the Second District. The City of New York acquired the property in 1954 and handed it over to the Parks Department. The playground opened as “John DeSalvio Park” on December 15, 1955. The Citywide Bocce Ball Championships were held in the playground in 1996 and 1997.
Nestled within Soho, Nolita is a neighborhood best known for its chic cafés and fashion boutiques. But it’s also a family destination thanks in part to one of the newest and most improved playgrounds in the city. After a two-year, $1.7 million renovation financed by the Borough President and City Council, the DiSalvio Playground has recently re-opened to the delight of both neighborhood children and children who have traveled from other parts of the city.
The playground has three jungle gyms, one for crawlers and early walkers, a toddler-friendly version, and a larger one with two standard slides and a curly slide. Several climbing structures and ladders allow a variety of entrances to the largest jungle gym.
A mini rock climbing wall is on the back of the playground. There is also a spiderweb-like rope climbing structure, which everyone can scale and enjoy as a perch to watch the action on the playground.
A basketball court with two nets is adjacent to the rock climbing wall. Sprinklers will be available during warmer months. Right next to the sprinkler area, two spinning contraptions, which attracted quite a crowd, are available for a good time.
The playground is lined with a lot of benches around the perimeter, and the viewing lines from the benches are open enough for parents to watch their children play from the comfort of sitting positions. There are also game tables located along the entrance area.
The renovated playground has been closed to the public since 2017 when the $1.9 million rehabilitation started. Reconstruction was a slog (it was supposed to last twelve months) thanks in large part to 75 Kenmare, which monopolized a large part of the playground space for the staging area. However, the push to upgrade DeSalvio is actually more than a decade away. Local organizations Bowery Babes, Friends of DeSalvio Playground, the Parks Partnership and the NYC Citizens Committee have been advocating renovation since 2006.