Old Town Playground

Old Town Playground

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

What was here before?

This site housed the first European settlement on Staten Island, Old Town. Dutch fishermen and farmers occupied this land in the mid-17th century, building seven Dutch-style cottages with lumber from the untouched forest and shells from the seashore nearby. These settlers came into conflict with the Native Americans already living in the area and engaged in three battles.

Around 1640, the Pig War started when Dutch Governor William Kieft falsely accused the Raritan Indians of swine theft, which led to a bloody conflict that destroyed the town. Several years later, it is purported that traders got several Native Americans drunk off whiskey from Kieft’s distillery, which was one of the first distilleries in America. The traders then robbed the inebriated individuals. Another version of these events claims that the distillery was built on Lenape land without compensation. In either case, the event prompted the Whisky War, which again devastated the town.

Old Town met its demise in 1655 when the Peach War left the town in ruins. A Dutch settler shot and killed a Wappinger woman named Tachiniki who had picked a peach from his tree. Her tribe attacked in retaliation, and the settlement of Old Town was never rebuilt. Instead, the first permanent settlement was established at a site farther south.

During the American Revolution, soldiers from the British Army and Navy were headquartered in the area. The Black Horse Tavern in New Dorp, as well as the Rose and Crown and the Fountain House, were occupied by the troops and their Tory supporters for the seven years that Staten Island was under martial law. In addition to the British soldiers, this southeast section of Staten Island housed many American war prisoners, kept in large holding pens.

How did this site become a park?

The City acquired this property in 1948. Originally intended to be part of the South Beach Houses complex, the Board of Estimate, a now extinct municipal body, assigned the property to be jointly operated by Parks and the Department of Education. Located at Parkinson Avenue and Kramer Street, the playground adjoins P.S. 46.

Old Town Playground is equipped with swings, play structures, and multi-purpose play areas. Older children enjoy the basketball courts, the baseball diamond, and a large open field for soccer and other sports.

Who is this park named for?

Old Town, the name of the surrounding neighborhood, was then known as Oude Dorp. After suffering through the battles between the colonists and the Native Americans, Oude Dorp was abandoned in favor of a site just south of here, where the colonists rebuilt their settlement, calling it Nieuwe Dorp, Dutch for New Town.

Park Information

Directions to Old Town Playground

Was this information helpful?