6. Who Was McCarren?

Senator Patrick Henry McCarren. Image via Wikimedia Commons

Perhaps lost to history for most who frequent the park is its namesake: New York State Senator Patrick Henry McCarren. He was one of NYC’s most famous personages of the era, and according to the book Brooklyn By Name, “McCarren’s funeral was the most significant (of its time) in Brooklyn,” apart from preacher Henry Ward Beacher’s. McCarren started his career as a cooper in the sugar refineries in Williamsburg (like the Domino sugar factory) and rose to become a Democratic political boss, in opposition to Tammany Hall. He became a state senator in 1881 and served for 18 years. McCarren was also involved in the project to build the Williamsburg Bridge. He personally chose the site of McCarren Park and obtained the funds to create it. Soon after he died in 1909, Greenpoint Park was renamed “McCarren Park.”