Friends of Duane Park

Friends of Duane Park

Duane Park, a tiny but mighty neighborhood treasure, is the second-oldest public park in New York City, having been planted in 1797 on the remnants of an old Dutch farm. (Bowling Green was the first, in 1733.) At the time of its founding, it was the first plot of land “promotive of health and recreation,” in the words of the vestry of Trinity Church, which sold it to the city for five dollars. That is, in some ways it is the first public park, since it was the first land purchased specifically for a park-like purpose. Duane Park’s history is wonderfully interesting with its many changes in ownership and design. But by the 1990s the park had fallen into a state of woeful neglect so a group of neighbors assembled in 1994 to create Friends of Duane Park a tax-exempt organization founded to protect, clean, beautify and contribute to the maintenance and restoration of Duane Park and other public spaces in the neighborhood. Relying on annual gifts, support from community leaders, and community events, Friends of Duane Park has stepped up the maintenance of the park, planned and planted a major restoration and re-landscaping including new benches and historic lamps, and launched the Trees for Tribeca program. Today, Duane Park is clean and well kept. A spectacular display of spring bulbs delights neighbors and visitors alike. The trees provide a welcome canopy of shade in the summer and a grand structure in the depths of winter. The park is often the setting for feature and independent films as well as community events that support local schools. Duane Park is the heart of Tribeca.