Marcy Park South
Marcy Ave. Bet. S. 9 St. And Division St.
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Marcy Park South
William Learned Marcy (1786-1857) was a lawyer, soldier, and statesman who made his mark on politics in both New York State and the federal government. Marcy was born in Southbridge, Massachusetts. After graduating from Brown University, he moved to Troy, New York. He opened a law office in 1811, but the following year he left to serve as a United States captain in the War of 1812. After the war, he returned to Troy, where he continued his law practice and took up politics. He joined the Democratic Party as a supporter of then-State Senator Martin Van Buren. Marcy became one of the leaders of the Albany Regency, a state party machine. He was state comptroller from 1823 until 1829, when he was appointed to the state supreme court. Marcy was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1831, where he continued his support of Van Buren. In 1832, opponents accused Van Buren of abusing political patronage as Andrew Jackson’s Secretary of State. In his defense Marcy issued his famous statement that “to the victor belongs the spoils,” meaning that the administration of Jackson – who had defeated John Quincy Adams in the 1828 election – had a right to make use of its influence. The system of patronage was known thereafter as the “spoils system.”
Marcy was elected governor of New York in 1833 and left the Senate. The term of governor was then only two years, and Marcy was elected three times, the last term ending in 1839. During his tenure, Marcy oversaw the construction of the Erie Canal and resolved the boundary dispute with New Jersey. After he left office, he became a leader of the “Hunkers,” the conservative part of the New York Democratic Party that disagreed with the vocally anti-slavery “Barnburner” segment of the party. This brought Marcy into opposition with Van Buren, who was a leader of the Barnburners.
Marcy was Secretary of War under President James Knox Polk from 1845 until 1849, guiding the United States through the Mexican War in 1848. President Franklin Pierce appointed him as Secretary of State in 1853, a position he held until his death on July 4, 1857. The most noted accomplishment of Marcy’s career was directing the negotiation of the Gadsden Purchase, which allowed the United States to buy a sizeable territory from Mexico that later became part of Arizona and New Mexico.
Marcy Avenue was mapped from Fulton Avenue to Flushing Avenue in 1835. In 1850, it opened between Quincy and DeKalb Avenues, and was finished between Fulton and Halsey Avenues in 1852. A century later, on February 6, 1952, the city bought property for the construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, popularly known as the BQE. This included the land for Marcy Park South, located at Division and Marcy Avenues. The park portion of the property was transferred to Parks the same day.
Built under the direction of Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority Chairman (TBTA) Robert Moses (1888-1981) between 1946 and 1964, the BQE cost $137 million to complete. Federal, state, and municipal funds were all necessary for the construction of the massive 6-lane, 11.7 mile-long expressway.
In addition to the TBTA and several other city and state posts, Moses was Parks Commissioner from 1934 until 1960. Combining his roles with the TBTA and Parks, Moses created a series of small parks to beautify and buffer the area around the busy expressway. While most of the expressway parks are simply green traffic islands and sitting areas, a few, like this one, which provides basketball and handball courts, provide recreation space as well.