This playground takes its name from the adjacent Bayview Houses, which overlook historic Jamaica Bay. The development is bordered on three sides by Canarsie Park and on the fourth by Seaview Avenue.
The name for Canarsie Park comes from the Canarsie (or Canarsee) Indians, who lived in this area. They called this area Keskachauge (or Kestateuw), but Dutch settlers renamed the area New Amersfoort in the 1630s. In 1675, Jan Martense Schenck, a Dutch immigrant, built a house in the area of New Amersfoort, on Mill Island, within the current boundaries of the park. The house consisted of two rooms, and was built as a simple box of 20 feet by 40 feet, but the family expanded the house into an L-shaped plan containing eleven rooms. It is believed that the house was either entirely refurbished or rebuilt during the 1720s. When the British took control of the territory during the American Revolution (1775-1783), they renamed New Amersfoort the Flatlands.
In 1895 and 1896, the City of Brooklyn purchased land for Canarsie Park. Brooklyn Parks Commissioner Frank Squier stated that “this [Schenck] house will be preserved, and will always be one of the Park’s attractions.”Â Fifty-seven years later the house was dismantled, removed from the park, and reassembled at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. The parkland expanded in the 1930s and 1940s and a small portion of the parkland was transferred to Parks in the 1950s. Most of the parkland south of Shore Parkway was transferred to the National Park Service for the creation of Gateway National Recreation Area.
Jamaica Bay is an 18,000 acre wetland estuary surrounded by the Rockaway Peninsula to the South, Brooklyn to the West, and Queens to the East. With an area almost equal to that of Manhattan, the bay consists of numerous islands, a labyrinth of waterways, meadowlands, and two freshwater ponds. The wetlands provide a unique environment for both wildlife preservation and urban recreation. Enclosed by the Rockaway Peninsula and protected from the Atlantic Ocean, the region currently hosts over 325 species of birds, 50 species of butterflies, and 100 species of finfish. A favorite stop for migratory waterfowl, the area is an integral part of the larger, regional ecosystem. One of New York City’s most extraordinary natural resources, Jamaica Bay remains virtually undisturbed by human hands.
Through the efforts of Robert Moses (1888-1981) who served as Parks Commissioner from 1934-60, much of Jamaica Bay was placed under Parks jurisdiction in 1938. Originally, Jamaica Bay Park covered over 9,151.8 acres of wetlands and beaches. Determined to uphold the park’s natural state, Commissioner Moses defeated plans to create a large industrial port.
Following the establishment of the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in 1951, Herbert Johnson was appointed as its resident superintendent. Johnson worked diligently to preserve and restore the natural nesting grounds of waterfowl and shore birds. The resurrection of the nesting grounds has led to the return of an increasing number of species each year. Notables include the return of the snowy egret (Egretta thula) and the glossy ibis (Plegadis falcinellus).
On March 1, 1974, following a congressional initiative designed to create a National Seashore in New York and New Jersey, over 9,000 acres were transferred to the newly created Gateway National Urban Recreation Area. The Gateway National Urban Recreation Area is comprised of Jamaica Bay along with sections in Breezy Point, Sandy Hook, and Staten Island. The park is maintained by the National Parks Service.
Bayview Playground, located on Seaview Avenue and adjacent to P.S. 270, was acquired in two parcels ”“ one in 1955 by local law and the other in 1962 as a gift from the New York City Housing Authority. The playground, surrounded by a chain link fence and paved with asphalt, contains a comfort station, flagpole with a yardarm, and two drinking fountains. Play areas include basketball and handball courts, a spray shower, metal play equipment with safety surfacing, tot and regular swings and tot play equipment. Many benches and London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia) provide areas to sit in the shade.