We first learned about the Golden Swan from The Rough Guide to New York City. The garden site formerly housed a bar, The Golden Swan Bar, "variously called The Hell Hole, Bucket of Blood, and other such inviting names" and was frequented by playwright Eugene O'Neill who "drew many of his characters from the bar's personalities" (p. 106).
According to the Parks website, the Golden Swan was demolished in 1928 to make way for the Sixth Avenue subway line. In 1934, the City was assigned jurisdiction of the parcel was deeded to the City and in 1935, a playground was opened. (Parks did not receive official ownership of the parcel until 1953.) In 1999, Mayor Giuliani and Council Member Christine Quinn allocated capital funding to transform "this formerly bedraggled open patch of asphalt and concrete into" the garden one sees today. The tree list includes number of trees such as the Japanese dogwood ( Cornus kousa), Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), Serbian spruce (Picea omorika), Japanese maple (Acer japonica), Dawn redwood (Metasequora glyptostroboides), and Saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana). Read about the trees in another small park in the area.