Oracle Playground is named for its proximity to Adelphi Street, which runs to the west of this site. The word Adelphi has great significance in classical Greek history and mythology. Although the modern Greek translation defines adelphi as “sister”, the American adaptation means “at Delphi.” Delphi was a town in ancient Greece located on the lower slopes of Mount Parnassus. Considered by the ancient Greeks to be the center of what they thought was a flat, circular earth, Delphi was home to the oracle of the earth goddess who was guarded by a serpent, Python. In mythology, Apollo slew Python and took over the oracle. The oracle was consulted on private matters, such as which suitor was best for your daughter, as well as public affairs, such as when to go to war. Replies were received in the form of ambiguous answers, or oracles, which conveyed predictions and messages that, when interpreted correctly, foretold the future.
This playground was not always known by such a mythological name. The site, after being acquired in February 1957, became a playground jointly operated by Parks and the Board of Education. The area was known then as P.S. 46 Playground, named for the adjacent elementary school. In 1970, on the occasion of the official opening of the playground, the site was renamed the Edward C. Blum Playground. Blum, president of Abraham and Strauss stores, was a noted Brooklyn philanthropist. As life-long residents of Brooklyn, Mr. Blum and his wife were committed to improving the community. In the spring of 1940, Mrs. Blum was given the honor of selecting the official flower of the Borough of Brooklyn, which still is the forsythia. The Blum family endowed a trust fund for P.S. 46, allowing for the sustained economic support of the school. In 1987, Commissioner Stern named the property Clermont Playground, referring to Clermont Avenue, which bounds the playground to the east. The playground was renamed Oracle Playground in 1997, after an extensive renovation was completed.
The $585,000 renovation was funded at the request the City Council. The changes included new blue and orange metal play equipment with safety surfacing, a large spray shower decorated with a spiraling centrifugal graphic, and colorful concrete designs running up and across the arches that support the sprinkler heads. Basketball backstops and removable tennis court nets were installed to enhance the playground’s athletic offerings. Fencing, benches, and a drinking fountain were added to increase the comfort and beauty of the park. The playground’s Greek name inspired many features of the renovations. The paving stones, which lie along the fence line, are in the “Greek Key” design. This design incorporates interlocking boxes that continue in sequence down the length of the fencing. Animal art at the playground includes a sculpture of a Trojan horse, whose story was recounted in Homer’s ancient Greek epic, The Iliad.
Volunteer Days, hosted by Oracle Playground, bring many neighborhood residents and school children to the park. Together with Parks, these citizens work to keep the playground safe, clean, and enjoyable for the local community.