This playground bears the name of one of the earliest settlements to have existed in the Bronx area. Eastchester was originally the name of the second English community, after Westchester, to be founded in what was considered the Dutch colony of New Netherland.
Situated next to the playground are Eastchester Houses, a complex built for veterans of World War II, that can accommodate 874 families totalling about 3,445 people. Tenants were originally charged a rent of only $12.50 a month. In February 1948, the architects Harrison & Abramovitz completed preliminary plans for the housing project and on September 28, 1948, construction began with Mayor William O’Dwyer (1890-1964) sinking a silver-plated shovel into the ground at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Before the neighborhood gained its present name, it already was home to one of the most famous women in colonial history: the religious reformer, Ann Hutchinson (1591-1643). Exiled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony because of her anti-Puritan teachings, she and her family moved to what would later be called Eastchester in 1642. Her stay in the vicinity was, however, a brief one. The following year she, and all but one of her children, were killed by Native Americans. The Hutchinson River and the Hutchinson River Parkway honor her memory.
In 1664, more than 20 years after Hutchinson’s death, 10 families from Fairfield, Connecticut bought the land from Thomas Pell (1613-1669), an English landowner, who claimed the area as part of a purchase from the Siwanoy Indians in 1654. The 10 families drew up a town constitution called the Eastchester Covenant, which as well as including provisions for education, property maintenance, and Christian civility also insisted that one day every spring be put aside for the killing of rattlesnakes. The settlers raised livestock, grew wheat, and traded goods with Manhattan, using boats on the Hutchinson River. Originally known as Ten Farms, after its first inhabitants, the town soon became known as Eastchester.
The population of the town grew rapidly. During the Revolutionary War, British forces occupied Eastchester and in 1797, during an epidemic of yellow fever in Philadelphia, President John Adams (1735-1826) ran the country from his son-in-law’s Eastchester home.
Parks completed Eastchester Playground and opened it to the public on July 17, 1950. In 1997, Council Member Lawrence A. Warden funded a $127,113 reconstruction of the playground facilities, and in 1998, Mayor Giuliani put forward an additional $14,094 for further renovation. The park features red and yellow play equipment with safety surfacing, two sets of swings, a comfort station, benches, a spray shower, four handball courts, and two full basketball courts. Chain-link and wrought iron fencing surround the property. A compass rosette is embedded in the cement and a flagpole with a yardarm flies the colors of Parks, New York City, and the United States.