Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
Nathan Weidenbaum (1908-1983) was a longtime Woodside resident and one of the first occupants of the Wynwoode Gardens Homes where he moved in 1936. At the time, the area was lacking many basic amenities such as street signs and lampposts, so Weidenbaum formed the Wynwoode Gardens Homeowners Association to bring civic improvements to the area. He did much to advance the quality of community life and served as president of the association for over 45 years. He practiced law while also publishing a monthly newsletter on civic issues and services for homeowners. He also brought local bus service to the area. Weidenbaum retired in 1981 and died in March of 1983. A tree was planted on the site in his memory on November 19, 1983. In 1986, a local law, sponsored by Council Member Walter L. McCaffrey and signed by Mayor Edward I. Koch, named this park officially Nathan Weidenbaum Park.
In 1987, Commissioner Stern had renamed the area Little Six Park after the enormous neighboring apartment complex, Big Six Towers. After World War II, older housing in Woodside, which was laid out in 1869, was replaced by apartment buildings. Most notably, the Big Six Towers were constructed on Queens Boulevard and 60th Street, as a cooperative housing development sponsored by the New York Typographical Union, Local Six.
The park also had a local name, Little Bush Park, because it is located across the Brooklyn Queens Expressway from the larger Big Bush Park. The name Bush comes from a discontinued street, which once ran through these two parks.
In 1936, Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia (1882-1947) designated the site as parkland, however, construction on the future Brooklyn-Queens Expressway interrupted La Guardia’s plans. That December the Regional Plan Association recommended the construction of a link between the Gowanus Parkway and the Triborough Bridge, then known as “Brooklyn-Queens Connecting Highway,” the new project would 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 decided by Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) in late 1945. In October, 1958, the BQE was designated Interstate 278, making it eligible for 90 percent Federal funding for its completion and the rehabilitation of already finished sections. The final bit of the Queens section of the expressway, including the segment that runs through Woodside, was completed in 1964.
In 1971, after years of delay, Parks Commissioner August Heckscher and Queens Borough President Sidney Leviss agreed to co-sponsor the construction of what are known today as Big Bush Park, located across the way and Little Bush Parks, bounded here by 63rd and 64th Streets, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Before 1971, this site served as a dumping ground for Laurel Hill.
In June 2001, an extensive $1,300,000 renovation of Little Bush Park was completed. Funded by Council Member McCaffrey, the project refurbished the basketball courts, sitting areas, and swings. Steel fencing was erected to replace an older chain-link fence. New play equipment with safety surfacing and a lighting system were installed, as well as World’s Fair benches, decorative pavements and greenery, camel spray showers, donkey animal art, game tables, and water fountains. A new steel flagpole with a yardarm stands within the park, flying the flags of the United States, the City of New York, and Parks.
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