A 358-acre oasis of fields, ponds, trails, recreation facilities and precious forest in Eastern Queens, Cunningham Park has been a meeting ground for New Yorkers throughout the past century. The rolling terrain was carved out by a glacier some 20,000 years ago and remained rural until the economic boom of the early 20th century. The first inhabitants were Native Americans, ancestors of the Matinecocks, who farmed in the Little Neck and Flushing Bay areas. Dutch colonists arrived in the 1600s, followed by English settlers. During the American Revolution British soldiers reaped hay, rye, corn, oats and vegetables here.
The City of New York acquired the land, originally known as Hillside Park, in parcels between the 1920s and 1940s. In 1934, the city named the park for W. Arthur Cunningham (1894-1934), comptroller under Mayor LaGuardia. The Parks Department built tennis courts, bridle paths, baseball diamonds and parking lots at Cunningham in 1936. In the early 1950s, the city linked the park to the Kissena Corridor, a greenbelt also comprising Flushing Meadows-Corona, Kissena and Alley Pond Parks. Today Cunningham Park is an integral part of the New York City Greenway system, providing essential growing space for flora, fauna and humans.