Noble Playground enters new chapter with first full renovation since Robert Moses-era

playground equipment with child playing
Noble Playground has been completely redone for the first time since the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway.
Photo Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks

Noble Playground has entered a new chapter in history, with the first full renovation since the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway.

Just north of Soundview and west of Parkchester, the park reopened to the public on Tuesday.

Originally part of the Bronx River Parkway extension from Bronxville in Westchester County to Soundview, Noble Playground was constructed in 1939 with federal aid while Robert Moses held the title of NYC Parks commissioner.

But the park closed down temporarily in 1951 due to the construction of the Cross Bronx Expressway — which Moses is infamous for. The park was reconstructed and reopened in 1954, which was the last time it was fully renovated.

The recently completed $2.5 million renovation was funded by the City Council through former Councilmember Ruben Diaz Sr. Not only has the playground’s aging play equipment been replaced, but adult fitness equipment was added to the park.

In an effort to increase safety, new lighting was added and existing entrances along East 177th Street were closed and replaced with a new entrance on Noble Avenue, an NYC Parks spokesperson told the Bronx Times.

bars that adults can use for exercise
The playground includes adult exercise equipment. Photo Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks

“Parks and playgrounds are essential spaces for our developing youth, offering them a place to socialize, exercise, and strengthen their cognitive skills,” said Councilmember Amanda Farías, who took office after the renovation plan was underway. “These are the types of investments I hope to see throughout Council District 18 and the entire borough.”

Colorful pavement greets families into the revamped playground, and new plantings — including shade and ornamental trees — were also installed. A spray shower was transformed into a larger water play space and new innovative play equipment was designed to be inclusive to visitors of all abilities, according to the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation.

NYC Parks Commissioner Sue Donoghue, Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez, state Assemblymember Karines Reyes and Farías celebrated the reopening of the playground on Tuesday.

“We’re pleased to provide the community with a new, attractive, accessible, and safe recreation space that can be enjoyed by Bronxites for years to come,” Donoghue said.

The project was constructed from May 2022 to May 2023, according to the parks department website.

playground equipment
The new design features playground equipment for children with various abilities. Photo Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks

The park site also has basketball courts and a ballfield.

In 1981, the ballfield — which was created as part of the 1954 renovation — was named Philip Harding Field after Philip Harding, a Saint Raymond’s High School junior and Little League coach who was killed by a stray bullet in 1980.

The field was enlarged in 1995 and the public restroom building — which also came to fruition as part of that last full renovation — was rebuilt in 1998 and again last year.

The site of the park was once part of a farm owned by the Mapes family, who were among the earliest colonial settlers in the area, according to NYC Parks.

The park is named after Alfred Noble, a city engineer.

“This reconstruction stands as a testament to our commitment to creating safe and vibrant spaces where children can play, learn, and thrive. May this playground serve as a symbol of community unity and endless possibilities for generations to come,” Fernandez said.

Reach Aliya Schneider at [email protected] or (718) 260-4597. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @bronxtimes