Parks Named For Famous Women
March is Womens History Month and Parks is taking this opportunity to note the many parks honoring women, both local and worldwide figures, both historical and in our recent past.
French-Polish physicist Marie Curie (1867-1934) discovered radium, polonium, and the nature of radioactivity with her husband Pierre. The Curies received many joint awards for their discoveries, among them the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics. In 1911, Marie became the first person to receive a second Nobel Prize, this time for chemistry. Curie is honored in Queens' Marie Curie Park.
Other notable historical figures had a direct connection to New York. In Gravesend, Brooklyn, Lady Moody Square honors Lady Deborah Moody (ca.1583-1659), a wealthy, Protestant widow who left England for America in 1639, and in 1645, settled in Brooklyn. Modern women can be proud of Moody's contributions. She not only founded the town of Gravesend, but she also became the first woman in the New World to receive a land patent, to write the first town charter in English in New Netherland, and to establish one of the first towns with a square block plan in the New World.
Staten Island's Alice Austen (1866-1952) was a photographer whose more than 9,000 photographs of the late 19th and early 20th century document life in New York City and elsewhere. She was born in northeastern Staten Island in 1866 and later moved in with her grandparents who owned the Victorian cottage which takes her name -- the house is one of many historic houses in the New York City park system. Austen lived in the house, later with her companion Gertrude Tate, until the Depression wiped out her life savings, and she was forced to sell the family home and move into a poorhouse. Only toward the end of her life was her photographic work rediscovered, and she received considerable media attention not long before her death in 1952. A large collection of her photographs is now owned by the Staten Island Historical Society.
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962) was born in New York City in 1884. The niece of President Theodore Roosevelt and the wife of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Ms. Roosevelt distinguished herself in her own right. As a worldwide spokesperson, lecturer, and news columnist, she set about championing the cause of social reform and racial equality. Roosevelt is honored with a playground in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn and a monument in Manhattan's Riverside Park.
Eleanor Roosevelt's mother-in-law Sara D. Roosevelt (1854-1941) was a much beloved figure when Manhattan's Sara D. Roosevelt Park was named for her in 1934. Known as the "First Mother" -- this at a time when very few presidents' mothers were alive while they served in the Oval Office -- the park's dedication ceremony was broadcast over radio from Maine to Virginia, and attended in person by 100,000 people.
Another First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis (1928-1994), is honored in Central Park -- the Central Park Reservoir was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in 1994; she lived across the street in the penthouse apartment at 1040 Fifth Avenue.
Jennie Jerome Playground in the Bronx is actually named for Jeanette Jerome (1854-1921), who was born in Brooklyn, raised in New York City, and later married Lord Randolph Churchill. Jerome bore two sons -- one of whom would become Prime Minister of England and bravely guide that country through World War II. Jerome Avenue in the Bronx is named for Jennie Jerome's father.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
(1929 - 1945)