Naming these places “Square” is just a ploy to confuse tourists. (Image via Wikipedia)
Have you ever visited Madison Square Garden? What about Madison Square Park? To be clear, we’ve explained why they’re so far apart. But the building known as MSG has a very distinct shape in Midtown, and that shape is definitely not a “square.” In fact, most of New York City’s “squares” are part of the street grid, so they would be better described as “rectangles.”
The park that would be closest to a near-perfect square would probably be Tompkins Square Park, seemingly the only trustworthy Square Park in NYC. Looking at Duarte Square above, New Yorkers have a very loose definition of what constitutes a “square,” but here are some extreme examples around the City of places named “Square” where a different polygon would be much more fitting.
Juan Pablo Duarte Square is named for the man accredited as the liberator of the Dominican Republic. Dedicated in 1945, the square at the mouth of Avenue of the Americas (6th Avenue) into Canal Street is meant to celebrate Pan-American unity.
Named after Thomas “Big Tom” Foley, a 19th Century politician from the Lower East Side of Manhattan. The park was named in 1926 by the Board of Aldermen as a tribute for him in the heart of the City’s Financial District.
Westchester Square bears its name from the previous neighborhood that occupied this space, Westchester Heights. It is home to a building that houses Parks District 9, converted from an old 1927 comfort station, and currently bears the New York Public Library insignia from its short time as a library.
Williamsbridge Square bears the name of a bridge that crosses the Bronx River, named for John Williams. The Williams farm occupied the Gun Hill Road/White Plains Road intersection where this park is located, and his bridge is purported to be the first Bronx River crossing.
Popieluszko Square & Nutley Square
Father Jerzy Popieluszko was a Polish priest who lived in Poland during its Soviet occupation. Monuments in the park commemorate the life of Popieluszko, who died as an activist against the Soviet-controlled government, and in 1985 the square was dedicated to him and remains a memorial site, holding vigils attended by Polish-Americans living in Greenpoint.
T. Raymond Nutley Square is nestled in a lower quadrant of McCarren Park, and there seems to be no mention of its history anywhere. Please help us investigate the mystery of Nutley Square by contacting us!
Hollis Veterans Square
In the Hollis neighborhood of Queens, a very important battle of the American Revolution took place: the Battle of Long Island. General Nathaniel Woodhull was captured and kept in a tavern on Jamaica Avenue. The square commemorates the veterans from that battle.
Last but not least, Freedom Square is located in the heart of Kew Gardens Hills. This region of central Queens was primarily farmland as late as the early 20th century. Thanks to Robert Moses and the Grand Central Parkway, these parts of Queens began to be populated for those who seeked the “freedom” attained by a drive out onto Long Island.
Stay tuned because there’s a chance we’ve got more to say about NYC’s “Squares.” Get in touch with the author @uptownvoice.