Backstory and Context
The Coleman playground acts as a tribute to those who from the surrounding neighborhood who fought in World War 1. Coleman, who resided on Madison Street, was the son of Thomas Coleman and Mary Hurley. During the war, Coleman fought as a part of the 321st Field Artillery and the 82nd Division of the American Expeditionary Force. Coleman served in France and on June 16th, 1919 (approximately 7 months after the wars end), Coleman died in a Field Hospital in Hoboken New Jersey. Six months after his death, the New York City Board of Alderman decided to name the park after this local boy who fought and died for his country.
The importance of this site comes from the history of the 82nd division that Coleman was a part of, and the American Expeditionary force as a whole which the 82nd fell under. Although the United States had participated in World War 1 for a few months before the creation of the American Expeditionary Force, America only fought within the ranks of the French and British units. It was only until the American Expeditionary Force's creation in October of 1917 that the United States had an independent military presence in Europe. Commanded by General John Joseph Pershing, the American Expeditionary Force fought their first battle in the trenches of Nancy France with their 1st division. It was not until May of 1918 that the American Expeditionary Force gained its full autonomy after their victory in Cantigny, and instead of french troops being supported by the Americans, the french started to support the AEF instead. The American Expeditionary Force went on to front the Meuse- Argonne offensive, which was the bloodiest offensive for the United States military in World War 1.
The history of the Coleman Playground has been all but forgotten unfortunately. Not much information can be found about Joseph Francis Coleman, and there are no plaques honoring him or the American Expeditionary Force on location. This tribute to Coleman has become a frequented skate park and children's playground, and overtime it's significance has become less and less known. Although few know the background behind the Coleman Playground, it still stands as a memorial and commemoration to Coleman and other New York members of the American Expeditionary Force who fought valiantly and died during World War 1.
"Coleman Playground." Coleman Playground Highlights : NYC Parks. Accessed November 01, 2017.
"The American Expeditionary Forces - Stars and Stripes: The American Soldiers' Newspaper of World War I, 1918-1919." The Library of Congress. Accessed November 01, 2017.
Anonymous (November 1, 2017)
Max Fiorello (November 1, 2017)