What was here before?
This playground is located in Brooklyn’s Clinton Hill neighborhood, which is named for DeWitt Clinton (1769-1828), former New York City mayor, governor, state senator, and a one-time presidential candidate. Occupying one of the highest elevations in the borough, Clinton Hill began as a rural retreat in the 1860s. The bucolic character of the area was quickly lost, however, as developers scrambled to build row houses that came to line almost every street. Some remain today, along with the architecturally-distinctive mansions of several of Brooklyn’s most affluent industrialists.
How did this site become a playground?
The City of New York acquired this land by condemnation in 1954, and the playground opened in 1960. The site was previously occupied by P.S. 45. This playground is a Jointly Operated Playground (JOP) serving P.S. 270 Johann Dekalb School and the local community. Beginning in 1938, the Board of Education agreed to provide land next to schools where the NYC Parks could build and maintain playgrounds that could be used by the school during the day and by the public when school is not in session.
The playground was known as P.S. 270 until 1986 when it was renamed DeKalb Playground. Revolutionary War hero General Baron Johann DeKalb (1721-1780) is remembered for his dedication to the cause of American liberty. Born in Germany and serving in the French army, he later accompanied General Lafayette to the colonies to aid the American side in the Revolutionary War. He served on General George Washington’s staff at Valley Forge and fought in battles in New Jersey, Maryland, and South Carolina, where he was killed in battle.
Renovations in 1999 and 2000 included new play equipment, safety surfacing, swings and pavement.
What is this playground named for?
In 2001, this playground was renamed for Classon Avenue, which forms its eastern boundary. The name “Classon” derives from the Dutch surname “Claeson” or "son of Claes,” which was later corrupted to Classon. Though unconfirmed, it may have derived from Pieter Claeson Wyckoff, a prominent early 17th-century Dutch settler.