This playground and the nearby avenue are named for the Nostrand family. In the mid-1600s, many Dutch families settled in the townships that now constitute the Borough of Brooklyn. Due to the lack of standardized spelling and the transition from Dutch to English, the Nostrand family name took many forms throughout history including: Van Nostrand, Van Norstrand, Van Noordstrandt, Noostrand, Noorstrant, and Nostrandt. All are variations on the most commonly used modern form: Nostrand.
The common ancestor of the Nostrand family, Hans Hansen (d. 1690) or Jansen (he used them interchangeably) emigrated from Europe in 1640. Although of Dutch heritage, Hans Hansen emigrated from the Island of Norstrand off the coast of the City of Schleswig, in what is now Germany. His children adopted the name of the island of their origin, hence the name Van Norstrand. Hans Hansen settled in the township of Flatbush and his descendants all originated in or eventually settled in the various Long Island townships that now survive as neighborhoods in the borough of Brooklyn.
Hans Hansen, a farmer by trade, arrived in Flatbush with his son, Jan Hansen (b. 1637), after his first wife died. He married his second wife, Janneken Gerrets Van Loon in 1652. Han’s first son, Jan Hansen, settled in New Utrecht and became captain of the New Utrecht militia in 1689. After serving his tenure in the militia, Jan Hansen sold his property and moved across the river to Hackensack, New Jersey.
Another of Han’s sons, Gerret (Garret) Hansen Noordstrandt, settled in what is now Brooklyn. He married Jannetje Remsen (a member of another prominent Dutch family of the area) in 1685. Like his father, Gerret farmed for a living. He was one of the earliest members of the Dutch Church beginning in 1677. Nostrand Avenue in Brooklyn, which honors the family name, may be specifically named for Gerret.
One of the most complete histories known of a member of the Nostrand family belongs to Johannes Noostrandt (d. 1826). His first wife died shortly after their marriage and he married his second wife, Maria VanEtten a year and a-half later. Johannes served in the American Revolution (1776-1783) and lived in Duchess County, New York.
The Nostrand Playground property, located at the intersection of Nostrand and Foster Avenues, was acquired by the City on April 26, 1951. Opened in 1953, the playground provides a large play space equipped with red, yellow, and green play equipment with safety surfacing, a swing set, slides, handball and basketball courts, and spray showers. A large asphalt section of the playground contains a baseball field with a backstop. In 1999, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani provided $162,585 for new paving and resurfacing of the basketball courts as well as new benches and a drinking fountain. Surrounded by a chain-link fence and featuring a flagpole with yardarm, the playground has many benches and numerous trees, primarily pin oaks (Quercus palustris).
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