The City of New York acquired this property in 1925, and transferred it to the Department of Transportation as part of a Sixth Avenue renovation. The Board of Estimate later placed the parcel under NYC Parks jurisdiction in May 1934. The playground remained unnamed until February 1998, when NYC Parks designated it Houston Plaza. In 2000, it was renamed Playground of the Americas.
From White Street to Central Park South, Sixth Avenue is known as Avenue of the Americas. It was named by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1945 to celebrate the unity of the Western Hemisphere. Because New York City played a critical role in fostering Pan-Americanism, lampposts along the avenue bear symbols of the different Western nations. The name was almost changed back to Sixth Avenue in 1984 to make it easier for tourists, but New Yorkers protested the change, and it officially remains Avenue of the Americas.