Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
This facility is named in honor of a man who loved Brooklyn, beneficence, business, and baseball – and not necessarily in that order. Born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Russian immigrant parents, Abe Stark (1894-1972) began working at age 11 to help support his family. In 1910, the Starks moved to Brooklyn, where Abe began a 30-year career in the garment industry as a stock boy in a clothing shop. By the age of 21, Stark had his own men’s clothing shop at 1514 Pitkin Avenue in Brownsville. The success of the business made him one of the borough’s key players on the political and philanthropic circuits. He served as City Council President from 1954 to 1961, followed by three terms as Brooklyn Borough President. “Mr. Brooklyn,” as Stark came to be known, also founded Abe Stark Philanthropies and the Abe Stark Hillel Foundation at Brooklyn College. P.S. 346 in Brooklyn was named in his honor, and in 1965, Pratt Institute made him an honorary Doctor of Laws. Despite a distinguished career in local politics and considerable charitable efforts, Stark seems best remembered for something he did as a young tailor.
To gain publicity for his clothing shop, Stark bought an advertising space in Ebbets Field, the venerated stadium that served as the home of the Brooklyn Dodgers from 1913 to 1957. His 3 by 30-foot yellow sign bordered the bottom of the right-field scoreboard and read “Hit Sign. Win Suit.” Stark truly was a brilliant businessman; the awkward position of the sign meant that few suits were actually won, but countless people saw and remembered the ad.
This parkland was formerly the site of the Ravenhall Baths, a privately owned recreation facility for Coney Island day-trippers that contained swimming pools, locker rooms, and a sundeck. The City of New York acquired the land by condemnation in 1964, and assigned it to Parks that same year. The Abe Stark Rink opened in 1970 with an oversized parking lot intended to provide space for both visitors to the rink and those seeking other Coney Island attractions.
In addition to the indoor skating rink, locker rooms, rest rooms, skate rental concession, and first aid station that exist today, the original plans for this facility included a snack bar and full restaurant overlooking the rink, enclosed in glass. Instead of these food concessions, the spaces over the rink are used as meeting rooms for the organizations that use the facility.
Abe Stark Rink is home to both teen and adult divisions of the New York Stars Ice Hockey team, a member of the Greater New York City Ice Hockey League. Local high school teams also use the rink regularly, and skaters of all ages and abilities are invited to test their blades during weekend public skating sessions held throughout the year.
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