Private First Class Joseph Patrick Strippoli perished while honorably serving his country in the Vietnam War. Strippoli was born in Manhattan in 1946. He attended Our Lady of Good Counsel Parochial School in Yorkville until the age of ten, when his family moved to Woodside, Queens where he attended P.S. 151 and William Cullen Bryant High School. An able and talented young man, Strippoli earned an academic scholarship and won several awards for his sculpture. Tragically, a landmine near the Cambodian border killed Strippoli in 1968, during his service in Vietnam. He was twenty-one years old.
The neighborhood of Woodside is located in northwestern Queens. In the late 17th century, Joseph Sackett settled here. During the Revolutionary War, troops and couriers traveled along a route through this area, and the British established a camp near the present-day site of P.S. 11. By the middle of the 19th century, the landscape was the site of a number of large estates. The name ‘Woodside’ derives from a series of articles entitled “Letters from Woodside,” which newspaper columnist John Andrew Kelly wrote from his father’s bucolic estate nearby. After the Civil War, the local population grew as a result of both residential development and the extension of mass transit service. Railroads arrived here in 1861, trolleys in 1895, and an elevated rapid-transit line in 1917. After World War II, new developments brought apartment buildings and the area became more urban in character.
This parcel of land, bounded by 31st Avenue, 51st Street, and 54th Street, was formerly owned by the Dick-Myer Corporation, which ceded it to the City without cost in two parcels in 1948 and 1950. The land came to Parks in 1953 and was designed as a sitting area. In 1969, the city named it in memory of Private First Class Strippoli. In 1996, a capital project expanded the triangle and planted ivy, juniper, maiden grass and Oriental poppy. Game tables and World’s Fair benches were arranged within and around the center oval. A stone sculpture of an eagle perched on a sphere sits within the oval.