7. Jackie Robinson Park honors Jackie Robinson’s lesser-known financial career
True fans of groundbreaking baseball icon Jackie Robinson know his childhood home is located in Flatbush, but Robinson also has persistent ties to the Harlem community. Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962, Robinson was the dedicatee of Sugar Hill’s Jackie Robinson Park. Stretching north 10 blocks from its southern edge on 145th Street, Jackie Robinson Park lies along Edgecombe Avenue. One of only four parks designated as Historic Harlem Parks, the site was originally known as Colonial Park when New York City opened it as a playground in 1911.
Jackie Robinson Park has one of only ten pools in the city completed by Robert Moses. Keen onlookers can spot a bust of Jackie Robinson by artist Inge Hardison inside the pool and recreational center entryway (near W147th and Bradhurst Avenue). At the height of the Civil Rights movement in 1964, Robinson pledged to help the historically Black Harlem community find greater financial freedom. Robinson became a cofounder of Freedom National Bank of Harlem, which served as a lender for the Black community and earned the loving moniker “Our Bank” by Harlem residents. In 1978 City Council member Fred Samuel advanced the local law renaming the park after the famous athlete and entrepreneur.