top of page

RFK Dedicates Urban Playground to JFK

June 3, 1964 - Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and 10,000 scrambling children opened a $500,000 playground in one of Washington’s pockets of poverty today and dedicated it to President John F. Kennedy.

The former 3-acre abandoned car lot in the Second precinct, which has been transformed into an elaborate and unusual playground complete with locomotive, fighter aircraft, and a tugboat, was described as “the dream of the Kennedy brothers” by O. Roy Chalk, who underwrote the project.

Chalk, president of the D.C. transit system and chairman of the National Committee on Playgrounds for Young America, told the crowds jamming the cordoned-off streets, “The feeling behind such a playground is that it makes children happy, and happy children make good citizens.”

The Second precinct has one of the highest crime rates in Washington and one of the two most substandard housing areas in the city. Although there are 10,000 children in the area, there has until today been nowhere for them to play except the streets.

“In Washington,” said Chalk, “we wish to set an example for community responsibility. This was the dream of the Kennedy brothers.” He related how he had met with 41 presidents of student councils in schools in the area and that they had chosen to name the playground the “John F. Kennedy Playground.”

The Attorney General, who was accompanied by his wife and three of his children, emphasized that “so much more needs to be done in other cities.”

“People complain about juvenile delinquency and youth crime,” he pointed out, “but when the schools are insufficient and education is inadequate and children have nowhere for recreation, how can you expect anything except delinquency and crime?

“It is incumbent on the rest of us, who have responsibilities in Government or as private citizens, to do what we can in Washington, which is the capital of the free world, to see that our young people are brought up with hope and confidence in the future,” Kennedy said.

“If we learned anything while President Kennedy was President of the United States — and he had a close identification with the young — it was that this kind of effort must not stop here, but must go forward and make this country a better place to live,” he added.

Seconds after the Attorney General snipped the gold ribbon to open the John F. Kennedy Playground, it looked as if every one of the 10,000 children was sprinting to get inside.

Support this project at


bottom of page