Ethan Allen Playground
Ethan Allen Park
Bounded by Cozine Avenue, New Jersey Avenue, Wortman Avenue, and Vermont Street, this playground is named for Ethan Allen (1738-1789), an American Revolutionary soldier, frontiersman, and Vermont folk hero. Most likely, the inspiration for the playground’s name comes from its location on Vermont Street. Ethan Allen was born in Litchfield, Connecticut in 1738 to a backwoods farming family. Little is known of his early life other than that he was preparing for college when his father died in 1755, and that he served in the colonial forces during the French and Indian War (1754-1763).
Following the war, in 1769, Allen settled in the “New Hampshire Grants,” an area claimed by both New Hampshire and New York, and which today constitutes the state of Vermont. Many settlers in the “New Hampshire Grants” were eager to establish their own state, independent of both New Hampshire and New York. In 1771, Allen joined with several of these disgruntled settlers to form the Green Mountain Boys. For four years, Allen and the Green Mountain Boys waged a guerilla war for independence against New Hampshire and New York, garnering much support from fellow settlers in the “Grants.”
When news of the British assault against the militiamen of the towns of Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts arrived in 1775, Allen and the Green Mountain Boys turned their attention to the larger conflict. Following instructions from the Connecticut legislative assembly, he and his band joined with Continental Army forces, led by General Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), to assault the British at Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York in May 1775. Together Allen and Arnold secured a stunning victory, taking the fort, in Allen’s words, “in the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress.” Allen’s military success did not last long, however. Four months later, the British captured the daring yet foolish guerrilla leader after he and the Green Mountain Boys attempted to take the British fortress at Montreal. Held prisoner for nearly three years, Allen was finally released in 1778.
In recognition of his service, the Continental Congress made Allen a brevet (wartime) colonel. Allen, however, refused to serve further in the American revolutionary forces, preferring to continue his work to secure independence for the “Grants.” During his imprisonment, in January 1777, the “Grants” settlers had declared themselves to be the independent state of Vermont. Made a major general in the new Vermont militia in 1778, Allen began pressing the Continental Congress for recognition of Vermont’s statehood. When Congress refused, he then entered into negotiations with the British, hoping to secure separate status for Vermont within the British Empire. The Treaty of Paris in 1783, however, ruined these plans. Vermont would have to wait until 1790 to become a state within the United States of America. Allen did not live to see this, unfortunately. He died on his farm in Burlington, Vermont in 1789.
Since 1962, Parks and the Board of Education have jointly operated this playground adjacent to Public School 306, or the Ethan Allen School. The playground itself opened in 1967, and was known simply as P.S. 306 Playground. In 1985, Parks dedicated the playground in honor of Ethan Allen. Eleven years later, City Council member Priscilla A. Wooten sponsored a $736, 000 renovation of the facility. Today, the playground offers something for everyone, with play equipment, basketball courts, handball courts, swings for tots, benches, a spray shower, drinking fountains, and a comfort station. At the center of the park, a flagpole flies the United States flag and a yardarm displays the flags of Parks and Recreation, and the City of New York.