Bergen Beach Playground is built on fill that joined the ancient island of Winnipague to the mainland in 1918. Abounding in game and fish, the island was used seasonally by the Canarsie, a Leni-Lenape tribe of the Algonquian peoples that once occupied much of eastern North America.
The Dutch West India Company set up a trading post near here in the early 17th century. The newcomers were especially interested in wampum, tubular beads drilled from mollusk shells and used as currency in the beaver pelt trade. By the 1640s, Winnipague was one of the leading sources of wampum on Long Island, fueling a mercantile system that extended from the Adirondacks to Europe and Russia.