These 35 acres of parkland, which form the largest park in the South Bronx, are bounded by East 149th and 143rd Streets on the north and south, and by St. Anne’s and Jackson Avenues on the east and west in the Mott Haven neighborhood. The site includes part of the estate of the Broncks for whom the Bronx is named, a Revolutionary War Loyalist military refugee camp, and part of the estate of Gouverneur Morris, an author of the Constitution. To the immediate northwest of the park was the site of Janes, Kirtland & Co. Iron Works, and in the park’s north end is Janes’ Hill, named for foundry owner Adrian Janes after 1857.
The original 25 acres were purchased as part of the establishment of the six original Bronx parks at the turn of the twentieth century. Chosen for its potential as an urban pleasure ground, the site was minimally developed to maintain its naturalistic character and named for a nearby church. In 1914, the Bronx’s first playground was opened here, with three additional playgrounds constructed between 1938 and 1941. In 1951, as part of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses’ plan to create places for winter recreation, the first indoor recreation facility in New York City was opened at the park. It includes an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, and meeting rooms for classes and community programs. In the late 1970s, the park was further developed with financial assistance from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and in 1996, a quarter-mile track loop and two additional tennis courts were introduced. In 2006 a synthetic turf field was installed, and in 2015, the west playground was renovated. Despite offering many recreational opportunities, including basketball and handball courts, the site remains largely natural, with its signature outcroppings of glacial rock and rolling hills unaltered.