Osborn Playground

Osborn Playground

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

Osborn Playground, named after the nearby street, is located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.

In 1865, Charles S. Brown purchased a section of farmland in this area and built 250 frame houses on the site, hoping to lure the working class from lower Manhattan and western sections of Brooklyn to his modestly-priced homes. Brownsville developed slowly primarily because it was difficult to get to. It remained essentially a farming village until 1887, when a Jewish real estate agent, Aaron Kaplan, purchased local lots, built tenement housing, and began to draw significant numbers of Jews seeking to escape the density of the Lower East Side. With the opening of the Fulton Street elevated railway (1889), followed by that of the Williamsburg Bridge (1903), the population of Brownsville ballooned, and by 1910 the neighborhood was crowded with tenements.

During the 1920s, with better access to rapid transit (the IRT extension in 1922), conditions in the area improved markedly, and the neighborhood prospered through the 1940s. Brownsville was also a center of labor radicalism, supporting socialist candidates for public office throughout the first half of the 20th century. Margaret Sanger (1915-1998), a pioneer of women’s reproductive rights, opened America’s first birth control clinic at 46 Amboy Street in 1916. The composer Aaron Copland (1900-1990), writer Alfred Kazin (1915-1998) and former Heavyweight champion Mike Tyson (b.1966) also grew up in the area. Although Brownsville declined during the post-war years, a fresh wave of immigrants has brought renewed vibrancy. Haitians, Jamaicans, Granadans, and Barbadians give the area a distinct Caribbean flavor.

The City acquired the land for this site on September 3, 1968. Originally opened as part of nearby P.S. 275 in December of 1971, when the neighborhood began to be redeveloped as part of an urban renewal effort, the Board of Education and Parks agreed to jointly care for the site. The site was later reassigned to Parks on July 29, 1988. Though the playground was renamed Chester Playground in December 1985, the site presently shares its name with nearby Osborn Street. In 1995 Osborn Playground underwent a $1,777,645 renovation funded by City Council Member Priscilla A. Wooten.

Surrounded by wrought iron fencing, Osborn Playground is paved with asphalt, concrete squares, and Belgian paving stones. The site contains a flagpole with a yardarm, a comfort station, a large compass stone, and a drinking fountain. Play areas include basketball and handball courts, aqua and red play equipment with safety surfacing, tot swings, a shower basin, and spring riding animals. Many benches and trees including London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia) among others beautify the area.

Park Information

Directions to Osborn Playground

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