This playground is named for the surrounding neighborhood, Seaside, along the Atlantic Ocean in Rockaway. The name Rockaway was probably derived from the Delaware or Chippewa words for “sandy place” (lekau akie). The region became known as Rockaway after it was colonized by Europeans during the 17th century.
The Canarsie tribe sold the mostly barren land that now comprises Rockaway to English Captain John Palmer in 1685, under a deed granted by Governor Thomas Dongan (served 1682-1688). In 1687, Palmer sold the land to Richard Cornell, a prominent Long Island ironmaster; whose descendant Ezra founded Cornell University in 1865.