Seward Park

Canal Street to Hester Street, between Essex and Jefferson Streets established 1899
Straus Square, intersection of East Broadway, Essex, Canal and Rutgers Streets

In the late 1890’s, the Outdoor Recreation League lobbied the City to clear several blocks for Seward Park, which opened in 1899. The park was named for politician William H. Seward, a strong supporter of immigrants, who in turn supported his successful campaigns for State Senate, Governor and U.S. Senate. The City took over management of the park in 1903 and created a permanent municipal playground, the nation’s first. The park also featured a children’s farm garden and a public bathhouse, which was replaced in 1941 with a recreation building. Straus Square was originally named for patriot Henry Rutgers, whose hundred-acre farm was nearby. Both Henry and Rutgers Streets and Rutgers University are also named for him. The square was a political epicenter, regularly hosting rallies and demonstrations. In 1931, the square was renamed for German Jewish philanthropist and advocate Nathan Straus, whose family owned Macy’s and Abraham & Straus department stores.