2. Madison Square Park: Police Officer Moira Ann Smith Playground
The land now known as Madison Square Park served as a New York City’s Potter’s Field from 1794 to 1797. Although hundreds of people were buried there (there are bodies beneath the park even today), the three years of use as a cemetery are not the park’s only legacy. A new phase of Madison Square Park’s existence began in 1986, nearly 200 years after the Potter’s Field closed, when a children’s playground was added to the northern part of the park as part of a major renovation project.
In March 2012, the playground was dedicated to Police Officer Moira Ann Smith, who lost her life on September 11, 2001. Officer Smith selflessly entered the second tower of the World Trade Center again and again to evacuate people as the building collapsed. As a result of her heroic actions, hundreds of lives were saved that day. It is quite fitting, therefore, that she should be memorialized with a playground built on top of a cemetery. While the playground is inescapably linked to death, it is also a monument to life, bravery, and the resilience of a city that rebuilds but also remembers.