Rowley Park is located on the corner of North Arlington
Avenue and William Street in East Orange. A satellite photo map
of the park from 2010 (before renovation began) is shown below.
Construction of Rowley Park (named after Lincoln E. Rowley)
began in 1963. Rowley Park was dedicated on June 3rd, 1967, with
a bronze plaque fastened to a glacial boulder that had been found
near the East Orange Reservoir in Livingston.
This photo of the glacial boulder, which was at
the base of a flagpole just in front of the field house, was
taken in November of 2008. The plaque had long since disappeared
and no one we spoke to at that time knew anything about the
history of the boulder or why the park was named "Rowley
In 1896, Lincoln E. Rowley was the first vice
principal of East Orange High School, and became principal in
1898 until he retired in 1900. Then Rowley was appointed
secretary of the first East Orange Playground Commissioners
formed under Mayor William Cardwell in June of 1907. He helped to
establish Elmwood Park, which had
been an ash dumping ground, and the former Oval Park near Grove
Street. He was also instrumental in the Lincoln
Statue Memorial formerly erected in 1911 at North Parkway and
New Street. For several years afterwards, Rowley organized the
Boy Scouts and citizens of East Orange to recognize Lincoln's
birthday at the old memorial site by laying a wreath at the base
of the statue. In the 1960's when the Garden State Parkway was
built, the statue of Lincoln was moved to its present location in
front of City Hall.
When we photographed the area in 2008, the
fieldhouse at Rowley Park had been shut up and was deteriorating
rapidly from neglect, as were the two stone gazebos shown above.
They overlooked a lawn which had been used as a "bowling
green" in the early days of the park, and had also been
flooded for an ice skating rink in the winters.
We think the graffiti art wall behind the former
basketball courts dated from 1995. The messages are of
"Jazz", "African Pride", "Knowledge is
the Key," "East Orange Pride," and "Hip
Local kids still used the park for basketball
and the broken down play equipment that remained, but until
Cicely Tyson Community School was constructed across the street
from the park, there was no great demand for its services. Then
the East Orange Unified Marching Band, stationed at the school,
discovered it was a good place to practice for football games and
parades (more photos HERE).
Photo by Al-Quadir Marsh
Now in the summer of 2011, the park is
undergoing renovation. Bulldozers have flattened the old
"bowling green" and turned it into a football field
with a running track all around. New playground equipment has
been added, with rubberized playing surfaces. We will continue to
add photos as the construction finishes and the park is
rededicated some time in the near future.