This playground takes its name from its location on Avenue Z between West and West First Streets.
West Street, which extends southward from Avenue T to the north side of Shore Parkway, was laid out in the mid-to-late-1800s. The name actually belonged to two segments of road, a northern and a southern part. The northern part of West Street, now called Dahill Road, was given the name of West because of its position in relation to the street layouts of eastern and central Brooklyn. West Street was taken as a starting point, or ‘directrix,’ with the streets after that named East First, East Second, etc. Although the Dahill Road segment was renamed, the northern and southern segments of the old West Street continue to serve as a reference point for the layout of the streets around them.
The land for West Playground, formerly the property of Fred C. Trump, president of Trump Construction Company was donated to the City for park purposes in 1951. Park’s original plans for this property included basketball and ice skating surfaces, play equipment, and a wading pool. The playground was designed to serve the rapidly increasing population of the surrounding neighborhood, where Trump’s extensive Beach Haven Housing development had recently been completed.
West Playground meanders in fenced sections down the long block from Avenue Y to Avenue Z between West and West First Streets, beginning with a small play area of red-painted wooden play structures, followed by a square of basketball half-courts on asphalt paving. The same paving covers a large open square with a baseball diamond, protective fences, and benches.
A wide opening marked by concrete half-pillars leads into a shady walkway, lined with London planetrees (Platanus x acerifolia), which crosses the park in a sweeping curve. The large open section from the walkway to Avenue Z is well equipped for fun, boasting three large play structures with safety surfacing, a toddler area, game tables, grassy sitting areas with benches, toddler swings, a handball court, a variety of trees, and a circle of spray showers built within more of the concrete half-pillars.
In 1986, a $609,470 restoration recreated the then 45-year-old park. Most of the current facilities were installed at that time, as well as 40 Bradford pear (Pyrus calleryana) and Sephora trees and more than 550 shrubs, including forsythia and “Virginal” mock orange (philadelphus). Ten years later Mayor Giuliani provided $88,572 for the reconstruction of the handball court walls, repainting, and new fencing.
The park’s expansive, unhurried design allows its visitors to enjoy West Playground in a wide variety of ways.