Bridge Playground, on the east side of the Harlem River, takes its name from the adjacent Washington Bridge and the Alexander Hamilton Bridge, which crosses the river a short distance to the south. Both bridges connect Manhattan Island to the Bronx.
The Washington Bridge was originally known as the Harlem River Bridge. Before its construction, several designs for the new structure were submitted. The choice fell on the double-arch plan proposed by Charles C. Schneider and Wilhelm Hildenbrand. Schneider had previously achieved recognition for his 1883 design of a railroad span across the Niagara Gorge. The original design, with each arch consisting of 6 parallel pieces of steel, was eventually simplified to reduce costs. The $3 million bridge was renamed in 1889, the centennial anniversary of the presidential inauguration of George Washington, America’s first president.