Recreation Park (Binghamton)
|Location||Binghamton, New York|
|Area||18 acres (7.3 ha)|
|Operated by||City of Binghamton|
|Status||Open all year|
Recreation Park is a public, urban park in Binghamton, New York. Located in Binghamton's West Side, Recreation Park is bordered by Seminary Avenue on the South, Beethoven Street on the West, Schubert Street on the North, and Laurel Avenue on the East. It was founded by shoe manufacturer George F. Johnson, and is home to one of his six famous carousels. The park also contains a bandstand, statues, numerous athletic fields and courts, a playground, and walking paths.
Prior to being a park, the property was primarily farmland, owned by Abel Bennett, the former first mayor of Binghamton, along with three smaller parcels owned by others. These parcels, totaling eighteen acres in all, were purchased by George F. Johnson, the founder of Endicott-Johnson Shoe Corp., and then donated to the City of Binghamton in October 1921. The only condition of this gift of property was "that it shall remain forever a public park, and that it shall be properly improved and maintained by the city as such. If at any time this property shall be used for any other purpose, it shall revert to the giver, his heirs or assigns."
The Herschell carousel was added in 1925. The bathhouse, which once had a red tile roof, still serves its patrons. The bandstand hosts concerts in the summertime. In the early days of the park, a giant wooden toboggan slide was situated at the Laurel Avenue side but was lost in a fire.
By the 1980s, the park was in serious disrepair. In the 1986 Heritage Committee Special Report, written by a task force that reviewed the park and made recommendations, members lamented that the park "has primarily changed only in the form of falling into such a state of disrepair that renovation is no longer cost efficient." The park underwent restoration, including restoration of the bandstand. The reflecting pool and its sculpture, Boy with Fish, were restored in 2004 (the latter by the Binghamton University art department through a grant from the Rose-Ross University and Community Projects Fund).