Patrick O'Rourke Park
Patrick O’Rourke Park
Dyker Heights is one of a handful of Dutch-influenced place names in Brooklyn. Dutch settlers bought land in the area from the Canarsee Indians as early as 1639. By 1657 the area was annexed as part of New Utrecht, one of the six original Dutch towns that later joined as Brooklyn. Waves of immigrants made their homes here—they arrived from Scandinavia in the 19th century, from Ireland and Italy in the early 20th century, and from China, Italy, and the former Soviet Union in more recent years.
The area was not developed as a residential neighborhood until the early 20th century, at which time it took its name, Dyker Heights. Block after block of one- and two-family houses were constructed, and land developers named the area after nearby Dyker Park and Dyker Beach. There are two differing stories concerning how these Brooklyn places got their name. The namesake may have been the Van Dykes who helped to divide the land when it was part of the Dutch town of New Utrecht. Or the name may reflect the dikes that the Dutch settlers used to drain and reclaim the marshy land.
Before this land was developed as a school and playground, it was the site of a Victory Garden during World War II. By cultivating their own vegetables, neighborhood residents aided the war effort and supplemented their rations. J.H.S. 201 was constructed on the eastern portion of the block, and the center portion was developed as a school playground with athletic facilities and a school garden in the northwest corner. In 1956 Parks developed a parcel adjacent to the playground with play equipment for younger children and their guardians. In recent years Dyker Heights Playground has undergone substantial improvements. In 1994 the City Parks Foundation installed new play equipment and safety surfacing, and school children transformed what had been a dumping ground and dog run into a flower garden. In 1998-99 the playground was renovated under a $200,000 requirements contract. Improvements included new playground equipment, swings and safety surfacing, fencing, pavement, benches, trees, north arrow compass rosette, bear play sculpture, and painted games. The athletic facilities include a newly resurfaced handball court and a new basketball court.