Manhattan’s “Happy Warrior Playground,” at Amsterdam Avenue between 98th and 99th streets, is officially named after New York Governor Al Smith (1873-1944), who was nicknamed “the happy warrior.” The playground has also been called “Rock Steady Park” and “The Goat Courts.”
Earl Manigault (1944-1998)—nicknamed “The Goat”—played on the courts in the 196-s and 1970s, becoming a street basketball legend. “Goat Park” was cited in a 1992 New York (NY) Times article. Following Manigault’s death in 1998, New York City officially named the basketball courts the “Goat Courts.”
Rock Steady Crew, a b-boying crew and hip hop group, practiced near the basketball courts in the early 1980s. “Rock Steady Park” was the title of an article in Vibe magazine in September 1993. The name “Rock Steady Park” has not been officially recognized by New York City, but the Parks Department mentions it on its website.
Wikipedia: Rock Steady Crew
Rock Steady Crew is an American b-boying crew and hip hop group which has became a franchise name for multiple groups in other locations.
History and description
The group was initially formed in the Bronx, New York City in 1977 by b-boys Jimmy D and JoJo. The Manhattan branch was created by Crazy Legs and B-Boy Fresh. The New York Times called the Rock Steady Crew “the foremost breakdancing group in the world today.”
Wikipedia: Earl Manigault
Earl Manigault (September 7, 1944 – May 15, 1998) was a famous American street basketball player nicknamed “The Goat.”
The “Happy Warrior Playground” on Amsterdam at West 99th Street in Manhattan is more commonly referred to as “Goat Park” where Mr. Manigault reigned.
City of New York—Parks and Recreation
Happy Warrior Playground
Located at West 98th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, this playground and the adjoining school honor four-term New York Governor Alfred Emanuel Smith (1873-1944). The son of Irish immigrants, Smith dropped out of school to help support his family. His lack of formal education, however, did not hinder Smith from becoming a distinguished New York political leader. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945) nicknamed him “The Happy Warrior,” referring to William Wordsworth’s poem Character of the Happy Warrior (1807), which celebrates diligence and perseverance.
Manigault’s signature move was the “double dunk” where he dunked the ball, caught it in mid-air, and dunked it again. Although drug use kept The Goat from college and professional stardom, he eventually overcame his addiction. He became involved in neighborhood recreation, counseling, coaching, and organizing a basketball tournament that has taken place every year since 1971. Soon after his death, friends and family worked with Commissioner Stern to dedicate the basketball courts in the playground to Manigault, naming them “The Goat Courts.”
Some people call the playground as “Rock Steady Park,” for the well-known 1980s break-dancing group, Rock Steady Crew, who once frequented the park. At one time, the dance group numbered over 500 members throughout the five boroughs of New York City. Rock Steady Crew practiced their footwork and routines in Happy Warrior Playground, among other parks. Malcolm McLaren’s 1983 video, “Buffalo Gals,” featured Rock Steady Crew, as well as several local dancers, break-dancing in this playground.
New York (NY) Times
BASKETBALL; The Word From the Goat Park Legend: ‘I’m Not into the Dream Team’
By ROBERT LIPSYTE
Published: August 07, 1992
The courts, officially in the Happy Warrior Park, are off Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan, between 98th and 99th streets, nestled among apartment buildings packed with players. This has been Goat Park since the early 1970’s, when Manigault began his youth tournaments, first hustling drug dealers for shirts, trophies and referees, later soliciting foundation grants.
September 1993, Vibe, “My Hood: Rock Steady Park” by Bobbito Garcia, pg. 26, col. 1:
To ball players, the park was simply known as “The Goat,” named after playground legend Earl “The Goat” Manigault. To the hip hop community, it was always “Rock Steady Park,” named for The Rock Steady Crew.
The Rock Steady Crew are regarded as the best all-time B-boys (the True-School term for breakdancers).
New York (NY) Times
City Names Basketball Court To Honor the Goat Who Flew
By NICHOLE M. CHRISTIAN
Published: May 26, 1998
His legend hovers above basketball courts across New York City.
But yesterday, it was Earl (the Goat) Manigault’s life that was being lifted up, as the city’s Parks Department memorialized the superstar of the asphalt by renaming the basketball courts in the Happy Warrior Playground at 99th Street and Amsterdam Avenue in his honor. The place where Mr. Manigault defied gravity and thrilled spectators decades ago is now the Goat Courts.
Visionary Street Artist Bua Announces Poster Signings In L.A. And San Francisco
Posted on: September 2, 2004 12:35
For over a decade, artist BUA has been making a mark in the art world with his unique style of Distorted Urban Realism, spearheading a new genre of art. Born in NYC’s untamed Upper West Side, BUA was fascinated by the raw, visceral Manhattan street life and found himself spending most of his time hanging out at places like Rock Steady Park and the Douglas Projects.
New York (NY) Times
Close, but No Holmes
By MICHAEL POLLAK
Published: January 2, 2005
Earl (the Goat) Manigault (1944-1998), the playground legend whose drug habit kept him out of the National Basketball Association but who recovered and became a respected youth counselor, played on this playground with the likes of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The basketball area has been renamed Goat Courts.
And some call the playground Rock Steady Park for the well-known 1980’s break-dancing group Rock Steady Crew, which once practiced routines in the park.
ARTE New York Minute: A Hip-Hop Guide to the Fast Life
January 30, 2010
The GOAT Park
Kurious takes you to the legendary G.O.A.T. playground, aka the Rock Steady Park, where Bobbito and him used to hang out as kids…
Thursday, July 25th, 2013 at 12:37 pm
Legendary b-boy Crazy Legs explains how basketball and breakdancing are a match made in heaven.
by Dr. L.A. Gabay
Hip-hop and streetball go hand in hand. Throw breakdancing into the mix, and you have a perfect summer day in the city. Crazy Legs knows all about it; the godfather of breaking is also a hoops head. Thirty-six years ago, Crazy Legs and his Rock Steady Crew—a collective of artists who made it their mission to reflect on and celebrate the life and culture teeming in New York City’s streets—mushroomed into a global initiative championing the power of expression and kinetic story telling to affect change
Crazy Legs: Dance and hoops are for sophisticated thinkers, but you also need the element of spontaneity and improvisation for both disciplines. On 98th and Amsterdam, there is a place that is called “The Goat” but also referred to as Rock Steady Park. Us b-boys and girls were developing our skills, and 50 feet away the ballplayers were honing their moves.