Both this playground and the nearby Fairmount Place are named after the 19th century Fairmount estate that was located here, owned successively by Colonel Dunham, Robert Cochran, and Thomas Minford. Prospect Avenue, adjacent to Fairmount Playground, gets its name for the prospect (view) that it affords of the East River.
Fairmount is located in the neighborhood of East Tremont. This was known as Upper Morrisania until the 1850s, when local postmaster Hiram Tarbox realized his mail was being mixed up with that of nearby Morrisania. He suggested the name Tremont for the three nearby hills: Fairmount, Mount Eden, and Mount Hope.
Before the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway (1948-1963), East Tremont was so popular that would-be-tenants had to wait a full year before an apartment would become available. The residents of the neighborhood protested, even forming a tenants association to organize against the expressway, but in the end construction went ahead and 54 apartment buildings were razed, forcing 5,000 evictions. When construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway started, the more affluent families of East Tremont began to move out of the neighborhood, and physical deterioration took hold.
Today, new apartment buildings have been built and old ones restored. The Bathgate Industrial Park Local Development Corporation, established in 1989, originally worked to draw in businesses to the area that now employ 1,500 people. The organization has since taken on the goal of increasing the overall economic position of the neighborhood.
Parks acquired Fairmount Playground in conjunction with the construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway. This playground, at the intersection of Fairmount Place and Prospect Avenue, opened on March 30, 1960. Commissioner Stern and Mayor Edward I. Koch rededicated the playground on June 7, 1989, after a $100,000 renovation. The work featured a toddler play area, a drinking fountain, wood and steel benches, game tables, concrete and asphalt pavements, safety surfacing and new trees.