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Clement Clarke Moore Park

Clement Clarke Moore Park

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

Scholar and poet Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863) is the namesake of two New York City parks. The first is a playground in Elmhurst, Queens, known as the Clement Clarke Moore Homestead. The second is this playground, located on a former farmstead purchased by Clement’s grandfather, Captain Thomas Clarke, in 1750.  A retired British Army officer, Captain Clarke named his property “Chelsea” after London’s Royal Chelsea Hospital for veterans.  His daughter and son-in-law extended the boundaries to what are now 19th Street, Eighth Avenue, 24th Street, and the Hudson River.

Born in New York City, Clement Clarke Moore spent most of his life on the Chelsea estate.  He graduated from Columbia College with a B.A. in 1798, an M.A. in 1801, and an honorary LL.D. in 1829.  Moore donated land for the nearby General Theological Seminary, where he taught Oriental and Greek literature from 1823 until his retirement in 1850.  Fluent in six languages, he published numerous scholarly works, including a Hebrew lexicon, a biography, and several treatises and addresses. 

Moore is best known for having penned the delightful children’s poem, “A Visit from St. Nicholas.”  He composed the poem for his wife Catherine and their children in 1822.  A family friend had the poem published anonymously in the Troy Sentinel the following year. The poem soon became a classic, popularly known as “The Night before Christmas.”  Moore died in Newport, Rhode Island in 1863.

Ninety-nine years later, the West 400 Block Association 23-22-21 initiated the improvement of neglected property at the corner of Tenth Avenue and W. 22nd Street.  The City of New York acquired the site in 1965 for use as a public park.  The playground opened on November 22, 1968 and was named for Clement Clarke Moore by local law in 1969.

Renovations to Clement Clarke Moore Park in 1995 included a new perimeter fence, modular play equipment, safety surfacing, pavements, and transplanted trees. Community members plant and maintain the flower beds, and the West 400 Block Association holds a variety of special events at the park.  Every Christmastime, residents gather to read the poem that begins with the familiar words:

‘Twas the night before Christmas,

when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring,

not even a mouse.

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