This park is named for the nearby Queensboro Bridge, which is also known as the Queensbridge or 59th Street Bridge. The 1960s band Simon and Garfunkel made the bridge famous in their song “Feelin’ Groovy,” also called “The 59th Street Bridge Song.”
Dr. Thomas Rainey (1824-1910), a resident of Ravenswood, Queens, spent twenty-five years of his life and most of his fortune promoting the construction of a bridge across the East River connecting Manhattan and Long Island City. The area now occupied by Rainey Park (just to the north) was to be the Queens anchor for this structure, which was to be called Blackwell Island Bridge. The bridge, planned with one ramp south to Brooklyn and another out to Long Island, was promoted as a catalyst for developing growth in Queens and as a railroad link to Long Island. However, the effort fell apart during the financial Panic of 1873; most interest in the region was for another bridge between Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the sparse population in Queens at the time raised further concerns of need and profitability.
The City of New York acquired the land that is now Queensbridge Park in two sections in 1939. The nearby Queensbridge Housing projects gave jurisdiction of the land to the New York City Housing Authority, but it was understood that Parks would maintain it. In 1975, some of the property was transformed into parking lots under the supervision of the Bureau of Property Management. The park is characterized by a variety of facilities, including baseball fields, a football-American football combination field, basketball, volleyball and handball courts, a playground with see-saws, swings and jungle gyms, a wading pool, a comfort station, picnic areas, sitting areas, walkways, greenery and trees. In 1998, Council Member Walter L. McCaffrey funded a $551,000 reconstruction of the ball fields within Queensbridge Park, and in 2000, he sponsored the installation of floodlights for the ball fields.