Ocean Hill Playground

Ocean Hill Playground

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

This playground is named for the Ocean Hill residential section of Brownsville, Brooklyn founded in 1890. Over the past century, the area has been home to members of Italian, African, Caribbean, and Latin American descent. The 1960s gave rise to an experimental community-controlled school district project and the 1970s saw an increase in the rise of vacant lots following the abandoning of houses and the damage and destruction caused by arson during the 1977 blackout. Ocean Hill is currently undergoing revitalization and consists primarily of two-family and four-family houses.

During the early 20th century, the neighborhood contained department stores, theaters, and light industrial warehouses. In the 1960s, Ocean Hill and the surrounding area of Brownsville participated as one of three experimental school districts testing community control over neighborhood schools. Local control frequently led to bickering among school leaders, community members, and representatives from the teachers’ union. One of the most turbulent teacher strikes in the history of the City ensued, putting an end to community control.

Beginning in the 1990s, encouraging signs of revitalization appeared. One and two-family homes filled vacant lots and renovations of the abandoned houses near Eastern Parkway and the surrounding area maximized the Ocean Hill housing stock. The East Broadway Merchants’ Association and the Ocean Hill Bushwick Bedford-Stuyvesant Development Corporation ensure Broadway remains a vital neighborhood thoroughfare. The neighborhood contains primarily African-Americans and Caribbean-Americans with a small percentage of Latin Americans who live in the northern section of the neighborhood near Broadway.

Ocean Hill Playground was acquired by Parks in 1964 and is jointly operated with the Board of Education. Located on the block bound by Bergen Street, Rockaway Avenue, Dean Street, and Thomas Boyland Street, the site consists of two levels connected by a ramp. The upper-level is at street height and the lower level is below grade. Formerly known as I.S. 55 Playground for the adjacent school, Commissioner Stern renamed the playground in 1987.

The upper level of the playground is shaded by trees and contains benches, four game tables, picnic tables, a shower basin, a drinking fountain, adventure play equipment with safety surfacing, and a swing set. Concrete barriers separate the playground from the street, and hexagonal pavers cover the ground. The ramp leads to the below grade section, which is paved with asphalt, and contains a yardarm flagpole, handball courts, tennis courts, basketball courts, and an open play area. The comfort station spans both levels. The tree-lined sitting area and the below-grade play area provide a choice of ways to enjoy the varied amenities of this park.

Park Information

Directions to Ocean Hill Playground

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