Diana Ross Playground

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The entrance to the playground

The Diana Ross Playground is located in New York City's Central Park, inside the park at West 81st Street and Central Park West. Its namesake, the recording artist Diana Ross, who lives across the street in The Beresford, gave two legendary free concerts in Central Park on July 21 and 22, 1983 (attendance estimated to be between 400,000 and 800,000 people), and pledged to fund the project with proceeds from the television rights. However, when a thunderstorm during the first (and only scheduled) concert destroyed all of its memorabilia/merchandise, the performance did not prove profitable, and Ms. Ross used personal resources to fund the project. Groundbreaking took place in September, 1986, with both Ross and then-Mayor Ed Koch present. Ross reportedly called the event "one of the most fulfilling aspects of [her] life and career." [1]

Today, the playground is equipped with sturdy wood equipment, tire swings, a tube slide, a corkscrew slide, sandboxes, rope bridges, and a mushroom-style water feature. [2] Open daily from 7:30am to dusk, the space is maintained by the Central Park Conservancy Playground Partners program.

To the north of the playground, the ground rises in a steep slope[3] to Summit Rock, the highest point in Central Park. To the east, secluded in shrub plantings, is Tanner's Spring, one of two natural springs that remain in the park.[4] Its name commemorates Dr. Henry S. Tanner, a proponent of therapeutic fasting, who, in the summer of 1880, elected to fast under constant observation for forty days and nights, supplied only by water from this spring.[5] M.M. Graff, in relating the story, observed "The legend quite naturally arose that the water of the spring contained some magically concentrated nutrients".[6] Before the construction of the park, the spring provided water for the community of Seneca Village, located to the north of Summit Hill, which at the time was called "Goat Hill".

With the release of the Diana Ross: For One and For All DVD of the iconic concert finally released on May 2012 by Shout Factory, the DNAinfo.com of New York selected the playground as one of New York's best.


  1. ^ Anderson, Susan Heller and Deirdre Carmody (September 12, 1986). New York Day by Day; Start at Ross Playground, New York Times.
  2. ^ Central Park Conservancy, Diana Ross Playground. Retrieved June 23, 2006.
  3. ^ A bronze plaque on a boulder along the path commemorates Elizabeth Barlow Rogers' decades of effort on behalf of Central Park.
  4. ^ The other is Montayne's spring, which feeds The Pool at 101st Street, near Central Park West.
  5. ^ The fast lasted from 28 June to 6 August 1880, according to "The Pioneers of Therapeutic Fasting in America".
  6. ^ M.M. Graff, Tree Trails in Central Park (New York:Greensward Foundation) 1970:178.
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