What was here before?
Maps of Gowanus from as early as 1906 show a mixture of residential lots alongside heavy industry, characteristic of the neighborhood today. With open green space virtually nonexistent, a former storage yard eventually became the site for Ennis Playground in the 1920s.
How did this site become a playground?
The land occupied by Ennis Playground was purchased from John Bean by the City of New York in 1856. In 1924, the site was assigned to NYC Parks in two portions, one in 1924 and the other in 1929.
Ennis Playground has been the recipient of newfound attention thanks to the advocacy and volunteer work of the Gowanus Alliance and the Friends of Ennis Playground who have together promoted cleanup efforts, public art displays, and family events at the playground site. Renovated in 2019, Ennis Playground is a vibrant space with greenery and colorful play equipment for neighborhood children to enjoy.
Who is this playground named for?
Ennis Playground is believed to be named for Thomas Ennis (1835-1900), an Irish immigrant, prominent civil servant, and businessman with ties to the area. Ennis served three terms as an alderman from Brooklyn’s Fifth Ward, worked as an assistant city clerk, and as city assessor for 25 years. As city assessor, Ennis was instrumental in judging the value of Brooklyn’s waterfront and farmland as it was transformed into city lots. In 1890, Ennis founded Thomas Ennis & Sons, a successful coal trading firm based along the Gowanus Canal. The playground was named for Ennis in 1929.