Travers Park

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Travers Park

Travers Park is a city owned park and playground bordered by 77th and 78th Streets, on the south by 34th Avenue, with 2 retail establishments serving as the northern border. More than half of the park is occupied by an asphalt play area, with softball field and tennis courts. Volleyball courts are frequently set up in this area as well. A children's playground with leaf-and-vine shaped spray shower occupies about one fifth of the park. There are restroom facilities, handball courts, a basketball court, a well manicured garden, a small picnic area, and a bicycle rack.

In 2012, a segment of adjacent 78th Street was transformed into a permanent Street Plaza and the sports area of a nearby Garden School was bought by New York City and added to the park. Travers Park is surrounded by trees, but does not have a lawn or any significant green space in its current configuration. An ongoing park refurbishment project promises to remedy that.


In April 1948 the City of New York acquired land for Travers Park by condemnation. The park was dedicated on July 26, 1949, named in honor of Jackson Heights community leader Thomas J. Travers.[1]

The park underwent a major renovation in the mid-1990s, improving the neglected playground. At the same time a series of green planting areas were created through the northern half of the park that flourish today. Many of the shrubs, perennials and fencing protecting them are the work of Friends of Travers Park. The Friends continues to maintain the plantings and provides neighborhood input to the New York City Parks Department.

A movement to expand the park started in 2007. Emerging from this effort was the closing of neighboring 78th Street to vehicular traffic from July to November in 2008 and 2009, enabling the street to function as a play street. The play street project was a joint effort by several organizations, including the Friends of Travers Park, Jackson Heights Green Alliance, and the Western Jackson Heights Alliance. The intention was to seek the closing of the street in 2009 to coincide with the presence of a Greenmarket.

In 2010, after organizing a march to Community Board 3 to request their support,[2] the organizing groups were granted permission to close 78th Street to traffic for the entire months of July and August.[3] In August 2012 a section of 78th Street adjacent to the park was permanently closed to traffic and transformed into a pedestrian plaza, effectively adding a 10,000-square-foot area to Travers Park.[4] This plaza is managed by the Jackson Heights Green Alliance who are responsible for the maintenance and overseeing the events that take place on the plaza. In February 2013, NYC Parks and the NYC Department of Citywide Administrative Services completed the acquisition of a 24,600-square-foot asphalt play yard formerly owned by the Garden School at 33-16 79th Street, and added the land to Travers Park.[5]

Also in 2013, the children's playground was again renovated. The playground became fully Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant and is appropriate for children aged 5 to 10 years old.[6]

Rory Staunton Field[edit]

Across 78th Street from Travers Park is the .57-acre[7] Rory Staunton Field, a former school yard of the Garden School that was transferred to the city's Parks Department in 2013.[8] It is names for Rory Staunton (1999-2012) who resided in Sunnyside Gardens and attended the Garden School. Rory was active in a variety of civic causes until an infection led to his untimely death from septic shock in 2012.[9][10] Staunton’s death helped to inspire the New York State Department of Health to implement protocols in all New York hospitals to better identify and treat sepsis, and the creation of the Rory Staunton Foundation to educate the public about this infection, which is usually treatable if quickly diagnosed.

Travers Park and Rory Staunton Field Play Field Reconstruction Plan[edit]

The creation of the play street and the acquisition of the Rory Staunton Field led to a major redevelopment of Travers Park. Formal redevelopment might be said to have started in 2009 when the Jackson Heights Beautification Group secured a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to create a community Environmental Justice plan. The JHBG publicized these events broadly, with the planning process having engaged over 400 residents to give their input about the future of the neighborhood in over a dozen community meetings. The final report, Green Agenda for Jackson Heights, is available here. [11]

Additionally, two public design visioning sessions for this project were held:

  • October 2013
  • March 2014

Emerging from these sessions is the following schematic of the planned park.

Travers Park Redevelopment Graphic.png

The following details on the redevelopment plan were copied from the Parks Department on April 25, 2018. For the latest city details see here.

Project Timeline[edit]


Start Date: February 2014
Projected Completion Date: October 2015
Completion Date: November 2016


Start Date: November 2016
Projected Completion Date: August 2017
Adjusted Completion Date: November 2017


The average time for construction is 12-18 months.

Start Date: March 2018
Projected Completion Date: September 2019


Parks Department Estimate as of May 5, 2017: "The total cost of redevelopment is expected to be between $3 million and $10 million."
Parks Department Estimate as of April 25, 2018: $6,446,000

Funding Sources

Mayor, City Council, Borough President

Project Staff

Park's Department Project Liaison: Joanne Amagrande.

Additional Information

Contact NYC Parks Department for more about this project.

Travers Park Tot Lot Reconstruction[edit]

The project will reconstruct the tot lot in Travers Park.

Travers Park - Tot Lot Playground.png

Project Update: The schematic design for this project has been approved internally at Parks and is now going through review by the community board and external regulatory agencies for comment and approval.

Project Timeline[edit]


Start Date: June 2017
Projected Completion Date: June 2018


The average time for procurement is 9 months. The procurement timeline for this specific contract will be established at the conclusion of the design phase.


The average time for construction is 12-18 months. The construction timeline for this specific contract will be established at the conclusion of the procurement phase.


Total Funding: Between $1 million and $3 million
Funding Source: Borough President

Project Staff

Park's Department Project Liaison: Joanne Amagrande.

Additional Information

Contact NYC Parks Department for more about this project.

Other Park Activities[edit]

The Jackson Heights Greenmarket, a farmer's market, opens on Sundays year-round in and adjacent to the park.[12] Since 2004, Travers Park has been home to Summer Sundays in the Park, a performance series that features a wide range of music, both in style and ethnicity. The series includes a musical produced by Theater for the New City, and a show by the Swedish Cottage Marionettes, based in Central Park. The series is sponsored by the Jackson Heights Beautification Group, and its Friends of Travers Park committee. It was funded in 2009 largely through grants from the Queens Council on the Arts, which had provided funding for several of the earlier editions.

On a sunny spring or summer day it's not unusual to see multiple activities occurring on the asphalt athletic area: bicycle riding, cricket, softball, soccer, and tennis. There are also handball and basketball courts.

Toddlers can play in a protected area, and a section for a waterworks and a table and chair area for games. It's not an ideal sports venue with falls to the hard surface too often resulting in injuries; but as with many things in New York City, park-goers make do.

A Concert in the Park[edit]

On September 5, 2019, the backup band for Billy Joel (from 1976 to 1981) played in the park. The band, "The Lord's of 52nd Street," played many Billy Joel songs and a few non-Billy Joel songs, all of which were enjoyed by a rather large crowd for a Thursday night. The members of the band included Richie Cannata, Liberty DeVitto Russel Javors.

The concert was a free event thanks to the Queens Chamber of Commerce and New York State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker. Anyone who has photos from the concert, please post them for us. Thank you.

Related Wiki Pages[edit]


  1. "Travers Park". City of New York Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2012-06-29. 
  7. Rory Staunton Field
  8. “Jackson Heights Garden School Field Renamed In Memory Of Rory Staunton” Parks Press Release September 23, 2013
  9. Dwyer, Jim “An Infection, Unnoticed, Turns Unstoppable” New York Times July 11, 2012
  10. Trapasso, Clare “City reaches deal to expand Travers Park in Jackson Heights. Garden School agrees to sell its yard for roughly $6 million” NY Daily News March 21, 2012
  11. See Pratt report, Green Agenda for Jackson Heights.

External Links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′13″N 73°53′21″W / 40.75373°N 73.88929°W / 40.75373; -73.88929