Van Nest Park began as a triangle with a monument honoring World War I soldiers from the Van Nest neighborhood who gave their lives in service of their country. The granite monument, which still stands in the center of the original park, was erected in April 1926 by the Van Nest Citizens’ Patriotic League.
The Van Nest community and Van Nest Avenue take their names from the Van Nest Railroad Station, which served this area in the late 19th century. The New York, New Haven, Hartford Railroad Company established the railroad station here even before there was a settlement. The station was named by Abraham Reynier Van Nest, the director of the New York, New Haven, Hartford Railroad, in honor of his father, Reynier Van Nest, a successful saddle maker. The Van Nest family traces its roots to Pieter Pietersen Van Nest, who came from the Netherlands in 1647 to settle in the young Dutch colony.