Benjamin Gladstone Square
Benjamin Gladstone Square
This square is named for Benjamin Gladstone (1897-1935), a New York City native who represented the Bronx’s Fifth Assembly District in the New York State Legislature. Gladstone was born in a house on Cherry Street in lower Manhattan. His formal education started at P.S. 83 in Harlem, followed by the Harlem Evening High School, and later Fordham Law School. After serving in the Engineer Corps in World War I, Gladstone started a law practice, and maintained an office at 285 Madison Avenue throughout his lifetime. He also became involved in a number of civic and political organizations including the Hebrew Kindergarten and Infants Home and the Bronx County Bar Association. A champion of organized labor and school reform, Gladstone devoted his congressional career to improving educational standards and working conditions within the public school system. The Assemblyman was also chairman of the 1934 Emergency Unemployment Relief drive in the South Bronx. Gladstone, a tireless representative of his community, died in 1935 of a heart attack at his home at 1106 West Farms Road, shortly after returning from a meeting at the State Democratic Club on East 163rd Street.
This public property, once part of an Indian trail, was formerly known as Fox Square. One local legend has it that Fox Square was named because fox hunts were held in the area during colonial times. More likely, it was named because of its proximity to Foxhurst, the 19th century estate of the Fox family, located in what is now Hunts Point. According to family history, George Fox (1624-1691), founder of the Society of Friends (commonly known as the Quakers), preached in the area in 1672. William H. Fox and his wife Charlotte Leggett inherited the estate in the mid-1800s, and the property wound up in the hands of their son-in-law, H.D. Tiffany, a member of the family that owned the famous jewelry and decorative arts company now located on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Nearby Fox and Tiffany Streets derive their names from the former landowners. In 1909, the Fox mansion was demolished. The Hunts Point Terminal Market now stands on the peninsula that was part of the family’s estate.
The city acquired this square, located on Westchester and Hoe Avenues and West Farms Road, by condemnation and took title to the property on September 1, 1896. The Board of Alderman officially named the property Fox Square in 1903. In 1937, the park was renamed in honor of Gladstone by a resolution of the Board of Aldermen. That same year, the Benjamin Gladstone Post of the American Legion erected the bronze plaque honoring Gladstone in the park’s planting area. The plaque reads: “In Memory Of Our Beloved Comrade Benjamin Gladstone, Dec. 16, 1897 – Dec. 18, 1935.” Today, Benjamin Gladstone Square provides the community with the essential features of a public park: trees, benches, and open space.