Turtle Bay Parks

Dag Hammarskjold Plaza
(The Gateway to the United Nations)

Dag Hjalmar Agne Carl Hammarskjöld was born on July 29, 1905 in Jönköping, Sweden. He was the youngest of four sons of a Swedish nobleman, a scholar and statesman, named Hjalmar Hammarskjöld, who served as Prime Minister of Sweden during World War I.

Hammarskjöld held a series of governmental positions:  Hammarskjöld never joined a political party, regarding himself as politically independent.

As a compromise candidate from neutral Sweden, Dag Hammarskjöld was unexpectedly asked to serve as Secretary-General of the United Nations in 1953 succeeding Trygve Lie, and reelected unanimously for a second term in 1957. As Secretary-General, he strove to prevent war and serve other aims of the United Nations charter.

He died in a plane crash near Ndola, Northern Rhodesia while en route to the Congo on September 18, 1961. For his outstanding service to the United Nations and world peace, Dag Hammarskjöld was posthumously awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1961.

The park on East 47th Street between Second and First Avenues, just north of the United Nations, was acquired by the City of New York in 1948 and named Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza in 1961. For many years it has served as a popular gathering place for public demonstrations.  The Friends of Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza was formed to raise funds, to organize special events, and to keep the park green and clean.

In 1997 the plaza underwent a reconstruction which created a symmetrical layout from north to south with six steel pavilions each housing a fountain. The same year marked the planting and dedication of the Katharine Hepburn Garden on the south side of the park. In 1998-99, the park area was expanded by a half-acre to the north to provide a visual link to the United Nations lawn and promenade. The plaza was updated with new trees, a steel lattice dome, additional park benches, and improved lighting.

47th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues

Greenacre Park

Delivering an intimate urban park experience to more than 200,000 visitors annually, Greenacre Park provides innumerable moments of welcome tranquility and escape for residents, families, visitors, and members of the local workforce.

The Park, composed of three levels, is highlighted by a dramatic, 25-foot-high waterfall constructed from huge sculpted granite blocks with a mass of falling water. Water also trickles down a granite-faced wall that flows into a serene brook running along to the Park’s entrance.

Open to the sky, the peaceful milieu features a central area of twelve mature honey locust trees, russet brick paving, sunny seating areas with moveable tables and chairs, and an outdoor café. A raised terrace, protected by a trellis roof of weathering steel beams and transparent acrylic vaults, contains heating elements to warm visitors during the cooler months. Lush evergreen plantings, walls of ivy, and large urns of colorful seasonal flowers complete the Park’s restful, garden-like setting.

Greenacre Park has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the United States Department of the Interior. The Park has received a number of awards for its exceptional concept and design. The Parks Council of New York City, The New York Society of Architects, and The New York State Association of Architects are among the professional organizations that have honored the park’s distinctive contributions to contemporary Manhattan life.

Designed by Hideo Sasaki, Greenacre Park — opened in 1971 — was conceived and developed by Greenacre Foundation, which privately owns and maintains the popular site. Greenacre Foundation was founded by Abby Rockefeller Mauzé.

Attendants are on duty at all times to assist visitors and to ensure that park rules are observed

217 East 51st Street between 2nd and 3rd Avenues

MacArthur Playground

In a career that spanned four wars and five decades, General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) established himself as an important, if controversial, figure in American history. MacArthur was born on January 26, 1880, in Little Rock Barracks, Arkansas, to General Arthur MacArthur, Jr. (1845-1912), a Civil War hero, and Mary Hardy MacArthur (1852-1935). In 1903, MacArthur graduated first in his class from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

Following his retirement in 1935, MacArthur became a field marshal in the Philippine Army, serving until 1941.

Following America’s entry into the World War II (1939-1945) in 1941, the United States Army called MacArthur back into service.  On September 2, 1945, MacArthur accepted the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay.

The Korean War (1950-1953) gave MacArthur his greatest triumph and his greatest humiliation. Appointed Commander-in-Chief of the United Nations forces at the outbreak of the war, MacArthur engineered the Inchon Landing. The mission’s success dramatically reversed the tide of the war.

His aggressive approach in Korea ultimately led to conflicts with policy makers.  MacArthur’s advocacy of an invasion of China led to his dismissal by President Harry S. Truman (1888-1972) in 1951.

After his death in 1964, the General lay in state at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue at 66th Street and was buried at Norfolk, Virginia.

MacArthur Playground is in the Turtle Bay section of Manhattan. Originally, this area was surrounded by a small wetland cove with an abundance of turtles which gave the community its name.  MacArthur Playground is located on the F.D.R. Drive between 48th and 49th Streets.  Alcoa Plaza Associates constructed the park as part of the United Nations Plaza (1947-53). Following its completion, Alcoa ceded the park to the Board of Estimate. The park opened under NYC Parks jurisdiction on February 28, 1966.

The park boasts a flagpole with yardarm, and a variety of amenities, including a comfort station, benches, slides, swings, a spray shower, and chess tables. Numerous trees provide shade for visitors, who enjoy unobstructed views of Queens and the East River.

48th Street To 49th Street, FDR Drive

Peter Detmold Park

This park honors Peter Detmold (1923-1972), once a tenant of Turtle Bay Gardens, a conglomerate of 20 townhouses on East 48th and 49th Streets, between Second and Third Avenues in Manhattan. Detmold fought in World War II, serving under General Patton at the relief of Bastogne and during the climactic fighting of the Battle of the Bulge in France.

After returning from the war in 1945, Detmold graduated from Cornell University with a major in history and a minor in music and continued to earn a master’s degree in medieval history. Among his civic pursuits, Detmold served as president of the Turtle Bay Association and founded the Turtle Bay Gazette. Detmold lived in Turtle Bay Gardens on East 49th Street, and, with fellow activist Jim Amster, launched the Turtle Bay Association in response to plans to turn 49th Street into a major commercial thoroughfare. When landowners began to rent out office space in residentially-zoned areas, Detmold defended the rights of tenants and homeowners, protecting the quiet, neighborly spirit of the area, now a designated historic district.

On the night of January 6, 1972, after returning home from a meeting of the East Side Residential Association, Detmold was murdered. This park was named in honor of Detmold that same year.

  • Originally a crescent shaped inlet of the East River, when the City filled it in to make space for expansion. Parks acquired the property for Peter Detmold Park, located along the F.D.R. Drive from 49th to 51st Street, in three parts between 1942 and 1951. On October 21, 1986, community leaders and residents’ broke ground for the $794,000 restoration of the park that included a gazebo, a wooden entranceway, World’s Fair benches, new asphalt and new lighting. In 1999, City Council member A. Gifford Miller funded a $100,000 renovation, which included a complete reconstruction of sidewalks and fencing.

A plaque and gazebo in Peter Detmold Park honor Peter’s friend James Amster (1908-1986), a strong force in the development of the park. Together, Amster and Detmold are largely responsible for the buildings that stand in Turtle Bay today.

49th Street To 51st Street, W/s FDR Drive