American Playground is named for the American Manufacturing Company, the second-largest industrial employer in Brooklyn in the early 20th century, and the original owner of this plot of land. Founded in 1890, the American Manufacturing Company produced rope and bagging. According to an article that appeared in the Brooklyn Eagle on April 19, 1919, it was the “largest cordage concern in the world.” The company occupied a five-block complex along Franklin Street, and its buildings still stand adjacent to the park.
American Playground is in Greenpoint, a neighborhood of great historical significance to the borough of Brooklyn. Greenpoint, which lies at Brooklyn’s northeasternmost extremity, was purchased from the Keskachague Indians by the Dutch in 1638 as part of the larger acquisition of Boswijck (Bushwick). Greenpoint is named for the grassy banks that lined the East River when the Dutch set up the first small farms here in the 1640s. Though this neighborhood bears a verdant name, much of its history is defined by heavy industry.