On 77th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, only one block from Shimmie Horn’s Hotel Belleclaire, is a little playground named for one of the Civil War’s most famous generals, William Tecumseh Sherman.
Since 1952 the park has gone through 4 separate incarnations. It was first developed when the City of New York received the land bordered by Amsterdam and Columbus Avenues on the east and west, and between 77th and 78th streets on the north and south. The land was designated for use for recreational purposes together with a school. The old P.S. 87 was torn down, and the new William T. Sherman School was built, and opened its doors in 1954. The playground had basketball courts, a roller-skating ring, play equipment and a garden from the old school.
In 1970 the site was modernized as an “adventure playground” until it was updated again in May 1987. This third renovation was called “Operation Playground” and incorporated the efforts of a 1,500-member neighborhood association of parents and their children. They raised $55,000 in private monies, and the Department of Parks of NY contributed and additional $30,000. The renowned park designer Robert Leathers drew up a plan which included a maze, tire-bridge, swing, fire engine, tree-house, roller coaster obstacle bridge and a suspension bridge with tunnels. Remarkably the park was built by community volunteers themselves working side-by-side with the Parks Department workers, in only seven days.
Today the park has taken on a fourth renaissance. For $760,000 Councilman Ronnie Eldrigde funded the park’s newest theme, an imaginary journey which children can take from New York City to the 1870s Wild Wild West.
The park is named for General Sherman, who, although born in Ohio in 1820, retired to New York where he lived until his death in 1884. He resided at Broadway and West 70th street, where there is now located Sherman Square, just a few short blocks from Tecumseh Park.
If you are staying at the Hotel Belleclaire, and especially if you have some children in tow, a trip to Tecumseh Park would be great fun.