At the intersection of Court Street and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway/Gowanus Parkway in Carroll Gardens sits a little traffic triangle that’s part of the Greenstreets program. Officially called “Cough Triangle,” this strangely named park even has its own listing on the NYC Parks website.
Though some residents joke that Cough Triangle is named after the pollution produced by the elevated BQE, it’s actually named for the surrounding streets. Court Street provides the C-O-U, Garnet provides the G, and the H comes from Hamilton Avenue.
The name of Court Street itself is a reference to the Kings County Courthouse, built in 1861 when Brooklyn was its own municipality. Hamilton Avenue is named after Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, made a popular hero today through the Broadway musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda.
Cough Triangle is technically categorized as a triangle/plaza within the New York City Parks system, and the parcel was first acquired by the city of New York in 1940 under the auspices of Robert Moses, the New York City Commissioner of Parks much maligned today for his urban renewal plans and expressway initiatives. Cough Triangle was transferred to the Parks Department in 1942.
$5,000 was spent on renovation when it was added as a Greenstreets site under Mayor Rudolph Guiliani, and features a few benches and landscaping. Parks Commissioner Henry Stern is credited with coming up with the name, one among many whimsical gestures he bestowed on newly created green spaces.
Ironically, most of Cough Triangle remains surfaced with concrete and Belgian block bricks. In a little, ill-maintained mini triangle, a tree and a shrub reside. Until a few years ago, remnant rails of a former Court Street trolley line could also be spotted on Garnet Street, though they have since been paved over.