Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
This park honors Grover Cleveland (1837-1908), the 22nd and 24th President of the United States.
Stephen Grover Cleveland was born on March 18, 1837 in Caldwell, New Jersey. The Cleveland family moved to New York four years later, where Cleveland attended Fayetteville’s district school house and, later, Clinton Liberal Institute in Clinton, NY. After working for a year in the New York Institute for the Blind, he moved to Buffalo to live with a wealthy uncle in 1855. Admitted to the New York State Bar in 1859, Cleveland decided to join the Democratic Party and enter the political arena. In the latter half of the 1800s, he successively held the positions of Assistant District Attorney of Eire County (1863), Sheriff of Erie County (1871-1873), Mayor of Buffalo (1881), and New York Governor (1883). As governor, Cleveland often found himself at odds with Tammany Hall, the largely corrupt political group that had grown prosperous on “kickbacks” from businessmen vying for city franchises, aspiring judges, and dishonest municipal suppliers.
After winning the 1884 presidential election on a public morality and anti-corruption plank, Cleveland followed his party’s call for the removal of federally appointed Republican positions. He successfully repealed the Tenure of Office Act, but unsuccessfully argued for a reduction in tariff levels. Though defeated by Republican Benjamin Harrison in the 1888 election, Cleveland was reelected to the White House the following term (1893). During his second non-consecutive administration, Cleveland faced several national crises including widespread financial unrest, the threat of European intervention in Latin America, and striking railroad workers in Illinois. Passed over for his party’s nomination the following year, Cleveland returned to practicing law and moved to Princeton, New Jersey. He died on June 24, 1908 and was buried there.
In July 1924, the City acquired this land located at the intersection of Grandview and Fairview Avenues and Stanhope Street, adjoining Linden Hill Cemetery. Developed in 1927-1928, the park contained two playgrounds, three tennis courts, two basketball courts, and a comfort station. Ridgewood residents knew it as Anawanda Park, a name taken from a small political organization of Tammany Hall-style politics proponents called the Anawanda Democratic Club (c.1921-1940s). The park hosted a number of activities, including summer drama productions and ice-skating during cold winter months.
In December 1939, this park’s name was changed to Grover Cleveland Park amidst much controversy. The anti-reformists of the Anawanda Democratic Club protested the renaming of “their” park after New York reformist president Grover Cleveland and their nearby rivals, the Grover Cleveland Democratic Club.
Over the years renovations and additions to the park have included a fenced-in softball field with two backstops, handball courts, a basketball court, a wading pool, a small playground and a comfort station. In July of 1997, Council Member Tom Ognibene allocated nearly $1 million to renovate the park. In 2001 Ognibene allocated another $20,000 for the park’s comfort station near Stanhope Street, slated for renovation by the end of 2002.
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