American Playground is named for the American Manufacturing Company, the second-largest industrial employer in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, and the original owner of this plot of land.
Founded in 1890, the American Manufacturing Company produced rope and bagging. According to an article that appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle on April 19, 1919, it was the “largest cordage concern in the world.” The company occupied a five-block complex along Franklin Street in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, and its buildings still stand adjacent to the park. Production of cordage – or rope – was an industrial arm of the shipping industry, often based in seaports and requiring large amounts of land for production purposes. The word ‘ropewalk’ refers to the long thin houses built for production of rope.