Highland Park

Highland Park Lower Western Playground

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

What was here before?

This part of Highland Park was once the Schenck estate. Johannes Schenck emigrated from Holland to the colony of New York in 1683 and worked as a teacher and town clerk in Flatbush and Bushwick, New York. Sources differ as to whether Johannes or one of his descendants built the farmhouse, which stood just north of present-day Jamaica Avenue between Essex and Linwood Streets. It was reportedly built between 1686 and 1765. 

How did this site become a playground?

In 1856, the City of Brooklyn acquired land for the Ridgewood Reservoir, which operated from the 1860s until 1985. The City of Brooklyn purchased the land surrounding the reservoir for park purposes in 1891 under the jurisdiction of the Highland Park Society and initiated substantial improvements to the property, then known as Ridgewood Park. In 1905, the property was extended to the south after the NYC Parks purchased the Schenck estate, which included a Dutch-style farmhouse. The farmhouse served as a club house, lunchroom, and storage facility for Highland Park before it was torn down soon after 1940. Highland Park took its present shape in 1906-08, when NYC Parks acquired a third parcel to the west from the Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity. 

This playground was established during a major reconstruction of Highland Park in 1935. In 2020 the playground underwent a total renovation, which included new play equipment, spray showers, and sitting areas. The renovation also included new landscaping and the removal of an obstructive fence surrounding Dawn of Glory, a World War I monument by Pietro Montana.

What is this playground named for?

One of three playgrounds within Highland Park, this playground is named for its location within the park’s lower section south of Highland Boulevard. Highland Park’s name comes from its position on a high plateau that commands dramatic views of nearby cemeteries, East New York, Woodhaven, the Rockaways, and the Atlantic Ocean. 

Directions to Highland Park

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