The Park House in BPC's Rockefeller Park Is Now 'Gladys's House'

Gladys Pearlman celebrates after cutting the ribbon on what is now the Gladys R. Pearlman Park House. At right, Maril Ortiz, the Battery Park City Authority's director of park's programming, prepares to unveil the new park plaque. Also at right is Raju Mann, the authority's president and chief executive. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jun. 30, 2024

At a ceremony marked by hugs, tears and salsa dancing, Gladys Pearlman cut the ribbon to celebrate a new name for the park house in Rockefeller Park. Its now the Gladys R. Pearlman Park House.

The much beloved Pearlman, who turns 80 in August, has been working with children in Battery Park City’s free activity programs since 1984, and full time for the past 30 years. Handing out toys, organizing and teaching games, and answering questions, she is sometimes called the park’s “unofficial ambassador.

A native of Puerto Rico, Pearlman has lived in Tribeca’s Independence Plaza since her building in that complex opened in 1974. She was lauded for her dedication to helping kids—some of whom have grown up and are now the parents of a new generation under her watch.

Pearlman was too tearful to make a speech during the ceremony, but others were happy to sing her praises.  

Gladys Pearlman and former Battery Park City Authority chief executve B.J. Jones dance at the park house.

She makes sure that  “everyone, particularly children, are safe and cared for,” said Craig Hudon, the Battery Park City Authority’s Vice President for Parks Programming. “But most of all to be a helper in the best way a public servant can. To roll up your sleeves and be a problem solver. When the parks would get too busy or suddenly unruly, Gladys would step in and take charge.”

“You have really touched the lives of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people. You have seen kids and families grow up, and this neighborhood grow up, too,” said B.J. Jones, the Battery Park City Authority’s former president and chief executive, who danced with Pearlman after the ceremony.

“I do everything here.” she told the Trib. “Programming, communication with the kids, helping with homework. Sometimes when they have problem and are crying, I sit down and listen.”

“And when they don’t behave,” she added, they get her attention, too.

Faith Johnson said her 5-year-old son Jaxson plays in the park often and “looks for Gladys every time we come by.” “She has a lot of energy, a lot of love, a lot of spirit.” 

The mother and son were back at the park house the day after attending the ceremony. “This morning he woke up excited,” Johnson recalled. “He said, ‘We gotta go to Gladys’s house.’”