Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
The namesake of this small park is William H. Latham (1903-1987), Consulting Park Engineer under Robert Moses (1889-1981) and one of the few aides with whom Moses would directly interact. For forty years, Robert Moses served as the master builder of the City of New York. He played a primary role in the development of its parks, transportation, and housing. Beginning in 1924, he held a dozen city and state positions, many concurrently. Invested with this authority, Moses constructed 416 miles of highway, 13 bridges, 658 playgrounds, 17 miles of beach, 11 swimming pools, zoos, recreation centers, and ball fields, and more than doubled the city’s park acreage to 34,673 acres. Moses is remembered as the man who built the city that New York is today, and aides like Latham were integral to his success.
Latham was born in November 1903. He attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and graduated with a degree in engineering. He was also a talented athlete and outdoorsman. Hired by Moses in the 1920s, Latham, along with the several other associates hired during that period known as the “Moses Men,” became legendary throughout state and city government for his ability, loyalty, and determination. Latham died in January 1987 at his retirement home in Lewiston, New York.
In December 1936, the Regional Plan Association recommended the construction of a link between the Gowanus Parkway and the Triborough Bridge. What was then called the Brooklyn-Queens Connecting Highway was to be financed equally by federal, state and city funds. The construction of the Kosciuszko Bridge over Newtown Creek in 1939 was the first piece of what would later become the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, colloquially referred to as the BQE. The route of today’s BQE was adopted by Robert Moses in late 1945 and was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s.
On November 17, 1955, the City of New York acquired this Woodside land in order to carry out renovations on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Jurisdiction over the land was conveyed to Parks later that day. Renovations on this land included modifications of the lines and grades of the street system and the laying out of six “sitting parks.” The parks were named on June 18, 1987. Two are called Crosson Green and Crosson Park. The other four – Jennings Park, Latham Park, Sherry Park, and Spargo Park – were named for the most prominent and dedicated of the “Moses Men,” for their many years of dedicated service to Parks and New York City. Widening the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in this area was necessary to provide for an acceleration lane on the expressway.
Latham Park is located at the western corner of 43rd Avenue and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. The park’s facilities include a sitting area and greenery. In 1999, Council Member Walter L. McCaffrey sponsored a $21,000 renovation of the sidewalks at Latham Park.
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