Willets Point Playground
166 St. bet. 16 Ave. and 16 Rd.
Directions via Google Maps
This playground is named for Willets Point, a peninsula located to the northeast of the park. Due to its strategic position at the approaches to the East River via the Hell Gate, the point eventually became the site of Fort Totten. In the 18th century, the 150 acre peninsula was known as Thorne’s Neck, after its owner, Jacob Thorne. In 1829, Charles Willets, one of the first nurserymen in the vicinity of Flushing, acquired the land, giving his last name to the peninsula. The Willets name is listed in Queens and Nassau county records as far back as the mid-17th century. In 1643, a Richard Willets is recorded to have settled at the English enclave of “Hempsteede” (Hempstead), Long Island, then still under Dutch rule. He was cousin of Captain Thomas Willett (1610-1674), leader of the English forces that seized New Amsterdam in 1664. That same year Captain Willett was named the first English mayor of the recently renamed “New York.” The spelling of …