This playground takes its name from the adjacent Grand Avenue, which runs parallel to the Grand Concourse. The concept for the concourse came from Louis Aloys Risse, an engineer in the office of Commissioner of Street Improvements Louis J. Heintz. The distinctive characteristics of his 1890 design were its remarkable breadth of 182 feet and its usage of varying elevations, with underpasses at large intersections, that allowed for an “express” lane of uninterrupted traffic.
The original plan, completed in 1909, ran from Mosholu Parkway down to East 161st Street. In 1927, it absorbed Mott Avenue, which ran from East 149th Street to this site on East 138th Street, making the total length of the Concourse four and a half miles. Throughout the first half of the 20th century, many of the boroughs main governmental buildings, major businesses, and exclusive residences were along the Grand Concourse.