In 1989, this plot of land, which had been known as Park Circle, was renamed by Parks for Police Officer Robert Machate (1964-1989), who worked as an anti-crime officer near the Circle at the Brooklyn South Task Force. Machate was shot and killed while in pursuit of a suspect on March 3, 1989, on East 23rd Street in Flatbush. Machate left behind his wife, Grace Ann, who gave birth to their daughter, Nicole Marie, on June 6, 1989, just a few months after Machate died.
The circle named for Machate is part of larger historical trend in landscape architecture. When Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux designed nearby Prospect Park in 1865 they intended to offer park goers a pastoral escape from the congestion of city life. Consequently, the park's entrances, most of which are set back from the street, were designed as places of transition between New York's urban bustle and the park's natural tranquility.