This playground, located at the intersection of East 156th and Fox Streets, on the border between the Bronx neighborhoods of Longwood and Morrisania, honors a wealthy 19th century Bronx resident, William F. Fox. Raised as a member of the Society of Friends (Quakers), William Fox may have been related to George Fox, the founder of the Quakers. In the 1850s, Fox inherited a large estate in the South Bronx that was surveyed by the Frenchman Louis Risse, who later became Chief Topographical Engineer of Greater New York.
Fox further increased his wealth when he took the affluent Charlotte Leggett as his bride. The Leggetts first settled in the Bronx as early as 1661, where Gabriel and Elizabeth Leggett became the proprietors of what is now the West Farms neighborhood. Major Abraham Leggett participated in the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), serving with the Continental Army during the battles at Brooklyn, Harlem Heights, and White Plains. His son, William Leggett, was well known for his novels about sea travel, such as Leisure Hours at Sea, and Leggett's Naval Stories. Samuel Leggett, Charlotte’s brother, was the founder of the New York Gas Lighting Company.
The Fox family was also intimately tied with the Tiffany family, who owned a significant amount of land in the Eastern Bronx during the 19th century. William Fox and Charlotte Leggett’s daughter married H.D Tiffany, whose estate, named “Foxhurst”, was based in Hunts Point. When William Fox died, he was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, and his mansion was demolished soon afterwards, in 1909. Today all three landowning families have streets in the South Bronx named for them.
East 156th Street was once divided into three subsections, Melrose Street, Beck Street, and Craven Street. Melrose Street was home to the prominent Winona Hotel, which closed in 1940. Beck Street, named for landowner Anna Beck, bordered Aurora Park, an old ballpark and picnic grove. In the east Bronx, East 156th Street was called Craven Street, honoring Admiral T.A Craven. The property on which Fox Playground stands was first vested in the City in 1972. On July 17, 1979 the Department of General Services granted the land to Parks, which developed the site as a playground. In 1987, the site was named Fox Playground.
The playground includes a 25-foot high sculpture by Rafael Ferrer (b. 1933) representing the sun setting between two trees. Honey locust (Gleditsia Triacanthos) and European linden trees (Tilia europaea) provide shade and greenery to the site.
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