Thomas J. Travers
Travers Park is named in memory of Thomas J. Travers (1897-1958), a prominent Jackson Heights community leader. He was born and raised in Manhattan, where he attended St. Agnes Church and Parochial School and MacDowell Lyceum. Thomas served in the U.S. Navy during World War I and returned to New York to marry his childhood sweetheart, Ann Desmond. They settled in Jackson Heights, where Travers took an active part in the social and political life of the neighborhood. He served on many committees for St. Joan of Arc Church, devoted countless hours to the Catholic Youth Organization, and helped to organize the Jackson Heights Sandlot Baseball League.
Travers was an active member of the Jackson Heights Taxpayers Association and the Queens Chamber of Commerce. During World War II, he worked on three War Loans Committees, chaired the Jackson Heights Committee for the New York War Fund, and served as a member of the Registrants Advisory Board. Travers rose to positions of leadership in the Elks and Lions Clubs. He served as Democratic District Leader for Woodside-Jackson Heights from 1940 until his death in 1958. The park was named for Travers in that year by the City Council.
In April 1948 the City of New York acquired land for this park by condemnation. Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, Queens Borough President James A. Burke, and Council President Vincent R. Impellitteri participated in the dedication ceremony held on July 26, 1949. The new park featured play equipment for younger children and a variety of athletic facilities for shuffleboard, softball, basketball, volleyball, paddle tennis, shuffle board, and handball. On cold winter days, the roller skating area was used as an ice skating rink. Benches, trees, shrubs, and a park house made the park a comfortable place to sit and rest.
In 1995 the park was dramatically transformed with new spray shower, trees, benches, picnic and game tables, security lighting, and play equipment for tots and older children. The basketball courts were refurbished, and the roller hockey court was repaved. The ribbon cutting ceremony for the renovated park was attended by three generations of the Travers family, Thomas J. Travers Jr., Thomas J. Travers 3d, and two-year-old Thomas J. Travers 4th.
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