Mt. Carmel Triangle
Mt. Carmel Triangle
This triangle, bounded by Union and Meeker Avenues and Jackson Street, honors Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, located at 275 North Eighth Street. Italian immigrants founded Mount Carmel Church in 1887, which was originally located at the corner of North Eighth Street and Union Avenue. Mount Carmel Church takes its name from the Roman Catholic order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (popularly known as the Carmelites), which was founded in 1150 by French hermit St. Berthold on the Israeli mountain ridge of the same name. The ridge, described in the Bible as an area of great holiness and natural beauty, has been important throughout religious history.
As millions of Italian immigrants streamed into the United States in the last few decades of the nineteenth century, their need for a parish in New York City became increasingly urgent. Williamsburg with its vibrant Italian community seemed the obvious choice; by 1902 the parish included 12,000 people. By 1920, the 37 year-old church was too small to handle the growing number of parishioners. Unfortunately, funds for a new structure ran out during construction and only the basement was finished. For the next 10 years, the people of Mount Carmel worshipped in the “Basement Church.”
In 1930, the new church opened to great fanfare. The construction of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, however, a highway connecting Queens with Brooklyn built from 1946 to 1964, forced demolition of the church in the 1940s. Although Our Lady of Mount Carmel is now located on the other side of the viaduct of the expressway between Meeker and Havemeyer Streets, Mt. Carmel Triangle still stands as a memorial to the church’s previous incarnations. Nearby Father Giorgio Square, located at the intersection of Jackson and Lorimer Streets and Meeker Avenue, pays tribute to the Mount Carmel’s Rev. Edward L. Giorgio (1909-1946).
Mt. Carmel Triangle was acquired by the City of New York through the Meeker Avenue proceedings and named in 1939. In 1944 it became parkland. Mt. Carmel Triangle as it stands today serves as a memorial to the former location of the church. When the BQE was rehabilitated in 1987, Parks gave the parish permission to enhance the paved triangle with greenery and to erect a statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in tribute to the original church. The statue was sculpted by Pete Donohue. Rev. Monsignor David L. Cassato, the parish’s pastor since 1985, agreed to work in conjunction with Parks to take care of the landscaping of this park, and it is through this combined effort that a tranquil natural oasis can dwell among several major thoroughfares.