This playground is named for the mascot of Junior High School 296, also knowb as the Halsey School. Indigenous to Asia, the tiger is the largest animal of the cat family, often growing larger than 9 feet, not including the tail, and weighing as much as 500 pounds. The tiger is a popular animal for schools to use as mascots, given their reputation for ferocity and strength. Tigers are also revered and feared for their hunting ability and are known to prey on any animals in their vicinity.
Tiger Playground was formerly named Halsey Playground for the adjoining school. Nearby Halsey Street was formerly known as Margaretta Street, which was apparently named for the wife of a local Dutch settler. After 1869, the street was renamed for James M. Halsey, a trustee of the Dutch Reformed Church of Bushwick. He was also a real estate developer and property owner. In the Bushwick Farm Plans, circa 1830, he is listed as owning property between Hart and Willoughby Streets along Stuyvesant Avenue.
Built in 1915, the Halsey School is located on Covert Street, two blocks south of Halsey Street. It was created to replace the dilapidated J.H.S. 85, located on the present site of this playground. J. H. S. 85 opened in 1892, and was expanded in 1906, but nine years later, the building was not equipped for a modern education program. Plans, therefore, were drawn up for another school, and the J. H. S. 85 property was set aside for the construction of a playground. When it was built, the Halsey School was one of the first of three experimental junior high schools in the country. Today, it is the oldest junior high school in the nation.
The title for this land, located on Evergreen Avenue between Eldert and Covert Streets, was vested to the City of New York in 1957. Opened in 1964, and jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Eduction, Halsey Playground was renamed Tiger Playground by Parks in 2000. It features benches, game tables, swings, a comfort station, play equipment with safety surfacing, a spray shower, as well as basketball and handball courts. A complete reconstruction of the playground was completed in 2001, with $689,000 in funding sponsored by Council Member Martin Malave-Dilan.