Old Town Playground
Old Town Playground
This playground is named for Old Town, the surrounding neighborhood which was the first European settlement in Staten Island, then known as Oude Dorp, Dutch for Old Town. After suffering through several destructive battles between the colonists and the Indians, Oude Dorp was abandoned in favor of a site just south of here, where the colonists rebuilt their settlement, calling it Nieuwe Dorp, Dutch for New Town.
Despite some uncertainty surrounding the exact year of settlement, Dutch fishermen and farmers occupied this land in the mid-17th century, building seven Dutch-style cottages with lumber from the untouched forest, and shells from the pristine seashore nearby. These settlers came into conflict with the Native Americans already living in the area, engaging in three battles known as the Pig, Whisky, and Peach Wars, which resulted in multiple topplings of this fragile pioneer’s hamlet.
In the Pig War of 1640, the Dutch Governor William Kieft accused the Raritan Indians of a plunder on Old Town, in which pigs were stolen and property destroyed. Kieft sent a troop of one hundred men to confront the Native Americans, but the situation got out of control when the colonists killed and tortured several of the natives, who denied any involvement in the thievery. The Raritan Indians retaliated with a massacre that destroyed the settlement, including its buildings, livestock, and many inhabitants.
The Whisky War was fabled to occur several years later, when the natives discovered the contents of the Old Town distillery, believed to be the first distillery in the country. In the story, they became exceedingly intoxicated and descended upon the struggling little town in a band of five tribes, again causing the destruction of Old Town. Soon after, in 1655, Old Town met its final day when the Peach War left the town in ruins. A landowner named Van Dyck shot and killed a female member of the Aquehongan tribe who had picked a peach from his tree. Her tribe attacked in retaliation, and the settlement of Old Town was never rebuilt after this final battle. Instead, settlers chose a site farther inland to re-establish their town, and New Dorp was born.
Soldiers of the British Army and Navy were headquartered in the area during the American Revolution. The Black Horse Tavern in New Dorp, as well as the Rose and Crown and the Fountain House, were occupied by the troops and their Tory supporters during the seven and a half war years that Staten Island was under martial law. In addition to the British soldiers, this southeast section of Staten Island also housed many American war prisoners, kept in large holding pens.
The City acquired this property in 1948. Originally intended to be part of the South Beach Houses complex, the Board of Estimate, a now extinct municipal body, assigned the property to be jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education. Located at Parkinson Avenue and Kramer Street, the playground adjoins P.S. 46.
Old Town Playground is equipped with swings, play structures, and multi-purpose play areas, one of which includes a dolphin sculpture. Older children enjoy the basketball courts, the baseball diamond, and a large open field for soccer and other sports. The park also features a red brick comfort station, a flagpole with a yardarm, benches, and cobblestone tree pits. Recently planted trees stand interspersed among mature London planetrees (Platanus X acerifolia). Funds amounting to $650,000 contributed by Mayor Giuliani and Borough President Guy V. Molinari went toward a reconstruction of the playground in 1996. Chain link fences, guiderails, and steel fences were added as part of an $18,370 renovation funded by Mayor Giuliani in 1998.