Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
The Crocheron family lived on the edge of Little Neck Bay for centuries. The first family member to live in the area was John Crocheron, a farmer whose will dates from 1695. His long line of distinguished descendents include: Henry Crocheron, a Congressman from 1815 to 1817; Jacob Crocheron, a Congressman from 1829 to 1831; Nicholas Crocheron, a member of the 1854 State Assembly; and Joe Crocheron, a horse racer and gambler who was as renowned as Cornelius Vanderbilt and August Belmont.
In the days when the Tweed Ring ruled city government (1866-1871), this park was known as a political gathering place. The “Old Crocheron House” here on the shores of Little Neck Bay was a favorite site for Tammany Hall picnics and clambakes. The infamous William “Boss” Tweed (1823-1878) knew the area well, and took refuge here after he escaped from the Ludlow Street Jail in 1875. Boss Tweed had been held on corruption charges, but his extensive connections allowed him to escape to Spain in 1876. He was arrested by the Spanish police and returned to prison in New York, where he died of pneumonia in his cell in 1878.
The Crocheron family house burned down in 1907, and the estate remained unused and undeveloped for almost 20 years. In 1924, the City of New York bought the land where the house once stood. The following year, at the request of the Bayside Civic Association, the City purchased another 45 acres and drew up plans to build a park on the consolidated property. By 1936, the City had turned the area into a park with picnic grounds, winding walks, an enlarged lake for wintertime skating, and thousands of trees. The following are just some of the species found in the park: Northern catalpa (Catalpa seciosa), American elm (Ulmus americana), Honeylocust (Gleditsia triacanthos), Sycamore maple (Acer pseudoplatanus), Red oak (Quercus rubra), Japanese black pine (Pinus thunbergiana), London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia), and Weeping willow (Salix alba ‘Tristis’). Since 1936, fields of saplings have grown into a veritable forest, and Parks has added a playground, a dozen tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a field house. In addition, visitors can also take in the splendid views of Little Neck Bay from either of the hexagonal gazebos that stand on the bluff.
Between 1954 and 1956, Parks acquired the property to the north of Crocheron Park from Broadway producer John Golden (1874-1955), built a park, and named it after the donor. Parks undertook a major renovation of Golden Park in 1973, when the goldfish pond was restored and a tennis house, tennis courts, playground, and six baseball fields were built. Together, Golden Park and Crocheron Park provide the neighborhood with a large area for recreation.
Council Member Michael J. Abel has sponsored many renovations at Crocheron Park. In 2000, Council Member Abel funded a $450,000 restoration of three ball fields and ten tennis courts within the park.
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