Greene Playground takes its name from its location on Greene Avenue, named in 1904, which runs from Fulton Street to Metropolitan Avenue. The source of both names is Revolutionary War General Nathaniel Greene, for whom Fort Greene Park was named in 1812.
After having served as a member of the Rhode Island state legislature, Nathaniel Greene (1742-1786) joined the military in 1774. In violating the pacifist ethic of the Quakers, Greene was forced to sever ties with the faith in which he was raised. In 1776 General George Washington directed the Continental Army to build entrenchments from Gowanus Bay to Wallabout Bay to protect Brooklyn from British forces. Major General Greene was called upon to supervise the construction of Fort Putnam (the original name of Fort Greene), so named for Rufus Putnam, designer of the New York defenses. Though the Americans were defeated in the Battle of Long Island in August 1776 and forced to abandon the fort, their struggle allowed Washington and his forces to escape across Gowanus Creek.
In the course of his career, Greene assisted Washington in victory at Trenton in 1776 and also led a successful retreat and final defeat of the British in the South in 1782. After the war, he retired to Mulberry Grove, Georgia. Greene Playground, which is jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education, was acquired for recreational purposes by the City in 1956. It opened to the public in July 1961, and the students of the adjacent P.S. 11 and the children of Clinton Hill have been playing there ever since. A $380,000 renovation funded by Councilmember Mary Pinkett was completed in 1997. Additions to the playground include new play units for toddlers and pre-teens, safety surfacing, fencing, lighting, shade trees, upgraded game tables and animal art.