NYC Parks Commemorates Black History Month with the Exhibition, ‘Namesakes’ at Arsenal Gallery



Marcus Garvey Park, formerly Mt. Morris Park. Image taken April, 2009. Image courtesy NYC Parks

In anticipation and celebration of Black History Month in February, NYC Parks is pleased to announce the exhibition “Namesakes: Honoring African Americans in NYC Parks” at the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park. The show focuses on a selection of parks throughout the city that are named after notable African Americans.

The image above, Harlem Cultural Festival, stilt dance to steel drums, Mt. Morris Park (now Marcus Garvey Park), July 28, 1968. NYC Parks Photo Archive, Photo by Daniel McPartlin.

The images above are before and after pictures of the basketball court on the Madison Avenue side of Marcus Garvey Park in East Harlem, with mural work created by Creative Courts and the artist, Saya Woolfalk.

Marcus Garvey as the “Provisional President of Africa” August 1922, Associated Press

Marcus Garvey is shown above in his purple and gold military uniform with a feathered hat, as the “Provisional President of Africa” during a parade on Lenox Avenue on the opening day of the annual convention of the Negro Peoples of the World.

Marcus Garvey Park

Pictured above in Marcus Garvey Park, Playing Basketball, Mural Alley-top by Saya Woolfalk, photo credit: NYC Parks Daniel Avila; Tonight We Dance: A Night of Jazz & Swing in Marcus Garvey Park, June 16, 2018. photo credit: NYC Parks Laura Alvarez; Drummers Circle, Marcus Garvey Park, April 19, 2013. photo credit: Lynn Lieberman; Playing in the Park, July 9 2016. photo credit: Lynn Lieberman.

Shirley Chisholm Circle

“This year’s Black History Month exhibition is a moving display of notable African Americans commemorated through our green spaces and monuments,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver, FAICP.  “With archival and current photographs of more than a dozen namesakes, the show illustrates how African American history has shaped our city’s culture and park system. We are proud to partner with the Ebony Society on this annual tradition, and we encourage New Yorkers to visit the Arsenal Gallery to see this meaningful show.”

Rucker Park

Many of New York City’s parks and monuments honor African Americans who have shaped the landscape of our culture. Monuments and parks of all sizes pay tribute to the contributions and lives of notable African Americans from the 18th century to the 21st century. In “Namesakes: Honoring African Americans in NYC Parks,” historical images from the NYC Parks Photo Archive are displayed alongside contemporary photographs that display the vibrancy of these parks today. Accompanying texts share biographical details about the namesake individuals as well as information about the parks’ histories.

White Park & Playground,, c. 1938.East Harlem. Image courtesy NYC Parks

White Park & Playground in East Harlem, image above, was renovated in 2015 to include all new playground equipment, checker & chess tables, and a new handball court and basketball court that received its own mural in 2017.

White Park, with picture of Walter Francis White, March 1918, U.S. Library of Congress

Parks highlighted in this exhibition include Betty Carter Park (Brooklyn), Captain Roscoe Brown Ph.D. Plaza (Bronx), Courtney Callender Playground (Manhattan), Crispus Attucks Playground (Brooklyn), Dr. Ronald McNair Park (Brooklyn) and Dr. Ronald E. McNair Playground (Manhattan), Greg Marius Court and Holcombe Rucker Park (Manhattan), Hattie Carthan Community Garden (Brooklyn), Jackie Robinson Park and Pool (Manhattan), Jackie Robinson Parkway (Brooklyn/Queens), and Jackie Robinson Playground (Brooklyn), James Weldon Johnson Playground (Manhattan), Lewis H. Latimer House Museum (Queens), Marcus Garvey Park (Manhattan), Pelham Fritz Recreation Center (Manhattan), Ralph Bunche Park (Manhattan), Shirley Chisholm Circle in Brower Park (Brooklyn), and White Park (Manhattan).

Hattie Carthan Garden. Image courtesy NYC Parks

The NYC Parks Ebony Society was founded in 1985 with the purpose of unifying NYC Parks’ African American community, increasing African American visibility, and recognizing those who make outstanding contributions not only to NYC Parks, but also their communities. Soon thereafter, the Ebony Society was chartered as a non-profit. The Society derives its name from the Ebony tree, indigenous to Africa and known for its strength. Since 1985, it has become an integral part of the NYC Parks community and has helped organize the annual exhibition honoring Black History Month in the Arsenal Gallery since 1991.

Dr. ronald McNair Park and Playground

Namesakes will be on view at Arsenal Gallery, Central Park from January 16 through February 27, 2020. Arsenal Gallery is located 830 Fifth Avenue at 64th Street, in Central Park, NYC.

This exhibition is presented by NYC Parks’ Ebony Society and Art & Antiquities, and will be on view through February 27.

2 thoughts on “NYC Parks Commemorates Black History Month with the Exhibition, ‘Namesakes’ at Arsenal Gallery

  1. Please let me know is there an admission cost for students to visit “Namesakes.” I work with foreign Fulbright Scholars and Students and wish to share with them free activities for Black History Month while they are in NYC.
    Thank you,
    Carol Gardner
    Cultural Events Desk Curator
    Institute of International Education
    809 U.N. Plaza

    1. The Arsenal Gallery is a wonderful place to bring students. It is part of our New York City Parks Department, within Central Park along Fifth Avenue near 65th Street. It is Free of charge. Here is a link for days and hours. The exhibit is on view to February 27th.

      While you’re in the neighborhood, take a walk down Fifth Avenue to 59th Street and enjoy a Public Art Fund outdoor art installation by Jean-Marie Appriou: The Horses on the Doris C. Freedman Plaza. See link here:

      If the students are up for a hike through Central Park, they may explore the Seneca Village Project near West 80 to 85th Streets ~ a good signage installation during Black History Month. Link Here:

      For your interest – opening in your neighborhood on February 21st, Per(Sister) a new exhibition at the Ford Foundation Gallery (42nd Street).They will also enjoy the Ford Foundation Atrium. Scroll down to Feb 21st on our Roundup:

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