Parts of the New York and Harlem Railroad line were changed “from horsepower to the underground trolley system” in 1897, which led to the closing of the tracks that ran through the location of today’s Railroad Park. Melrose Station remained in use and is still in use today as part of the Metro-North Railroad. In 1898, New York City Parks acquired the piece of land that is today’s Railroad Park. The total size of the land acquired was .83 acres. The small park formally opened four years later in 1902, and was mostly frequented by families with young children.
Since its opening in 1902, the park had not received its first official name. Residents and locals had been calling the place “the one-acre park” and “baby park. Borough President Henry Bruckner titled the site Melrose Park in 1920. In 1929, NYC Parks added a comfort station to Melrose Park which also served as an entry point to Melrose Station on East 162 street.
From 1940 to the 1970s, the rise of poverty in the Bronx due to red-lining and white flight, among other reasons, led to landlord abandonment, crime, and economic problems. At the peak of this turmoil, the comfort station in Railroad Park was abandoned.
In 2001, Henry J. Stern, NYC Parks Commissioner at the time, renamed the park Railroad Park to highlight its relation to Melrose Station. Just over a decade later in 2014, residents and locals voiced that they would like to see the comfort station become functional again. In recent years, NYC Parks has partnered with various community organizations, as well as the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, to program public art at the comfort station in Railroad Park. In October 2017, for example, an art installation organized by DreamYard and titled Faces of Railroad Park opened to the public to “encourage park use and strengthen community connections.