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Holcombe Rucker Playground & Basketball Court

Central Harlem

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Holcombe Rucker (1926-1965) dedicated his life to his community. Although he died young, his memory endures because of the major basketball tournament he founded. Rucker grew up in Manhattan, attended Benjamin Franklin High School, and between 1948 and 1964 worked for Parks as a playground director in numerous Harlem locales.

A number of basketball tournaments for children, high school, college, and professional players now take place in Rucker Playground, including the Entertainers Basketball Classic and the Each One Teach One tournament. The Rucker court and the top players it attracts have also been the subject of two films, Above the Rim and On Hallowed Ground. Both films secure the park’s place in urban and basketball history.

Located north of 155th Street, and bounded by Frederick Douglass Boulevard and the Harlem River Drive, the park opened February 23, 1956, as P.S. 156 Playground. In 1974, a local law re-named it Holcombe Rucker. In 1993, Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger sponsored a $423,000 renovation of the playground, reconstructing the facility as part of the Neighborhood Park Improvement Program (NPIP). The resulting facility contains play equipment, swings, safety surfacing, a spray shower, a flagpole with yardarm, a comfort station, four handball courts, seal animal art, and a baseball diamond. But, amongst an array of bleachers and stadium lights stands the Holcombe Rucker Basketball Court, the park’s main attraction, where both local players and national idols have come to play for four decades

Free Sites & Attractions Parks & Outdoors Central Harlem

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