Sara Delano Roosevelt Park is a 32,000 m2 (7.8 acres) park in the Lower East Side of New York City, Manhattan. The park, named after Sara Roosevelt (1854–1941), the mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, stretches north-south along with seven blocks between East Houston Street on the Lower East Side and Canal Street on Chinatown, bordered by Chrystie Street on the West and Forsyth Street on the East. The park is operated and maintained by the Parks and Recreation Department of New York City. The park is located between Stanton, Rivington, Broome and Hester Streets between Chrystie and Forsyth Streets, and is crossed by Delancey and Grand Streets.
A 7.8-acre park located right in the heart of the thriving Lower East Side, Sara D. Roosevelt Park (named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt ‘s mother) is a local epicenter where all of the neighborhood’s vibrant communities can come together and enjoy the park’s basketball courts, soccer field, community gardens, playgrounds, and roller skating rink.
When this park was named after Sara Delano Roosevelt (1854-1941), mother of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) in 1934, she was the only Presidential mother to live after Mary Washington until her son took office.
In 1880, Sara Delano married James Roosevelt (1828-1900) at her family home in Newburgh, New York. The couple then lived in his Springwood estate, designed by Central Park architect Calvert Vaux, in nearby Hyde Park. Her philanthropy included serving on the board of the Gallaudet home for the deaf, teaching sewing classes for girls, and volunteering at the Laura Delano Free Hospital for Children in New York City, founded by the Roosevelt family in 1885 in memory of her sister Laura. In her 1933 memoir, Mrs. Roosevelt wrote about her only child in her early years: My Boy Franklin.
The parkland was acquired by the City in 1929 for the purpose of expanding Chrystie and Forsythe Streets and building low-cost housing, but was later set aside for ‘playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children.’ The park’s construction in 1934 was the largest park project on the Lower East Side since the acquisition of Tompkins Square Park a century earlier. Parts of four streets (Hester, Broome, Rivington, and Stanton) were closed to accommodate seven separate playgrounds for boys and girls, as well as two wading pools, a roller skating rink, and a perimeter of benches and shade trees.
The dedication ceremony on 14 September 1934 demonstrated the reverence of the Lower East Side for Mrs. Roosevelt and her joyful reception of America ‘s finest playground. A cannon salute and performance by the Parks Department Orchestra paid tribute to the patriotism and ethnic diversity of the largely immigrant patrons was broadcast on radio stations from Maine to Virginia. In his opening address, Harry H. Schlacht, founder of the East Side Home News, proclaimed the day “the birth of a new Lower East Side.”
Recent additions to the park include the Golden Age Center for Senior Citizens, the vendor market, and the Wah-Mei Bird Garden. Park facilities and security were greatly improved in 1996 with the completion of a $2.7 million capital project that raised the sunken park to the street level and provided a new playground, basketball courts, and sidewalks.