Located in the South Bronx neighborhood of East Tremont, this playground, like the adjoining thoroughfare takes its name from the impressive view (or prospect) of the East River that can been seen from the southern part of Prospect Avenue.
Formerly known as Upper Morrisania for the Morris family who owned the land, the first postmaster of Tremont, Hiram Tarbox, suggested a change in name in order to avoid having mail confused between Upper Morrisania and Morrisania. He though of the replacement name Tremont, which comes from the three peaks located in the area: Fairmount, Mount Hope and Mount Eden.
Clinton Avenue, which runs adjacent to the playground, honors De Witt Clinton (1769-1828). Clinton served as Mayor of the City of New York from 1803 to 1815, with his years twice briefly interrupted while he served in the New York senate. He also twice served as Governor of the State of New York (1817-22, 1824-28).
De Witt Clinton’s father was Revolutionary War general, James Clinton, which allowed De Witt to gain an easy foothold in New York State politics, winning appointment to the U.S. Senate in 1802, and becoming mayor the following year. As mayor, Clinton worked to improve sanitation, extend the city northwards, and improve the military defenses of New York Harbor. He also established the New York City public school system and fought for the construction of the Erie Canal, which he succeeded in getting the state legislature to back, despite the powerful opposition of Tammany Hall. Clinton lived to see his plans for the Erie Canal come to fruition, when the canal opened in 1825. Neighborhoods, parks, and a high school in New York all honor him with their names.
Clinton thought of the city in terms of commercial success, but he was also interested in promoting social growth and cultural institutions. He passed bills for educational and cultural institutions, helped to establish the New York Historical Society, and the Literary and Philosophical Society. He was also involved in the founding of the Orphan Asylum and the Free School Society. In 1812, while serving as mayor, Clinton ran unsuccessfully for President against James Madison (1751-1836).
Parks acquired Prospect Playground in conjunction with the construction of the seven-mile Cross-Bronx Expressway. Started in 1948 and completed in 1963, one mile of the expressway cut through the neighborhood of East Tremont. The residents of East Tremont protested, but in the end construction went ahead and 54 apartment buildings were razed, forcing 5,000 evictions. When construction of the Cross-Bronx Expressway started, the more affluent families of East Tremont began to move out of the neighborhood, and physical deterioration took hold. East Tremont underwent vast improvement in recent years, with new apartment buildings constructed, and old ones restored.
This playground, located at Prospect Place and East 176th Street, opened on March 30, 1960. Commissioner Stern and Mayor Edward I. Koch rededicated Prospect Playground on June 7, 1989, after the park was refurbished at the cost of $250,000. The park now features three full basketball courts with painted pavement. There are four trees within the fence, and seven benches. The park also features six handball courts.