More than 200 years ago, George Washington's boat landed on the banks of the Merrimack River in Bradford.
This week, children will be able to play on the same ground where the country's first leader once stepped.
For the first time in a decade, Bradford has a new playground. This week, Washington Landing Playground opened on Ferry Street next to the Crescent Yacht Club.
The park is highlighted by a spiral slide and two large tunnels featuring images of blue fish. The park is near the river's edge and has benches where people can sit and watch boats along the river, as well as look upriver toward downtown Haverhill.
"I think it's great," said Doug Edison, former president of the Brightside organization, which takes on projects to beautify the city. "It's right near the Bradford Rail Trail as well, so it can be a good rest stop for people who bring their kids to walk on that trail."
The city decided on the name "Washington Landing" because it is where Washington landed his boat. The story goes that he visited the city on November 4, 1789. He was making a tour of New England and stopped in Bradford on his way back to New York. He then took the ferry from Bradford into Haverhill and visited Washington Square, which is also named after him.
Workers were putting their final touches on the playground late last week. The equipment was installed on Tuesday and mulching was done later in the week as workers rushed to finish the playground so children can use it this summer.
The park was made possible by a state Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant funded by the Massachusetts Division of Conservation Services
"They will be reimbursing us up to 68 percent," said Andrew Herlihy, the city's assistant director of community development, "The rest of the money for the project will come from the city.''
The grant covers $127,000 of the $187,200 project.
Improving the city's parks has been a major goal of Mayor James Fiorentini's administration. The mayor resurrected the Parks, Playgrounds and Recreation Commission last December by appointing three new members.
The city is in the process of adding some smaller parks as well. A pocket park is being built at Orchard and Locust streets. A community garden is going in on River Street.
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