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Dean Playground

Dean Playground

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Bounded by Dean Street and Bergen Street between 6th Avenue and Carlton Avenue, this playground takes its name from Dean Street. Dean Street, in turn, is named for Silas Deane (1737-1789), a Revolutionary War statesman. Born in Groton, Connecticut in 1737, Deane was educated at Yale College (now Yale University). He settled in Wethersfield, Connecticut, where he worked as a merchant and a lawyer. Elected in 1772 to the Connecticut colonial assembly, Deane soon became involved in the American revolutionary cause. In 1774, he became a delegate to the Continental Congress. Two years later, Congress sent him, Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), and Arthur Lee (1740-1792) to France to secure the support of the French.

In France, Deane proved himself to be a skilled diplomat. Almost single-handedly, he recruited numerous foreign volunteers for the American war effort, including the French statesman and military commander, the Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), the Irish soldier-of-fortune Thomas Conway (1735-1800Α), the Polish-born cavalry commander Casimir Pulaski (1748-1779), and the famed trainer of Washington’s troops at Valley Forge, the Prussian military commander, Baron Wilhelm von Steuben (1730-1794). He also helped secure military supplies that provide invaluable to the American victory at the Battle of Saratoga in 1777. Following the victory, Deane was one of the main architects behind the Franco-American Treaty of 1778. That same year, however, Arthur Lee accused Deane of illegally profiting from French arms sales to America. On the basis of these charges, the Continental Congress recalled Deane to the United States and launched an investigation into his dealings with the French.

While in France in 1781 to secure evidence for his defense, Deane privately expressed doubts about the American war effort in letters to friends. These letters were discovered and published in American newspapers. Reviled as a traitor and unable to clear himself, Deane immigrated to Great Britain. In 1784, he published a defense of his views, entitled An Address to the Free and Independent Citizens of the United States of North America. Finally allowed to return to the United States five years later, Deane died en route under unexplained circumstances. In 1842, characterizing Lee’s charges as “a gross injustice,” Congress officially exonerated Deane from all possible wrongdoing and awarded $37,000 reward to his heirs.

Parks acquired this property in 1948 and the playground opened that same year. For years, although the playground was not officially named, residents referred to it as Dean Street Playground. In 1970, the playground was renovated. New additions included a comfort station, several slides and swings, four seesaws, a sandbox, a flagpole, a hopscotch area, and an asphalt ballfield. Seventeen years later, Commissioner Stern officially designated the playground, Dean Playground. In 2000, Dean Playground was again renovated, through funds provided by Mayor Giuliani and City Council Member Mary Pinkett. The nearly $70,000 renovation project improved the park by replacing its safety surfacing.

Park Information

Directions to Dean Playground


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