The neighborhood of Carroll Gardens was created during the 1960s, when the area was cut off from the rest of Red Hook by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. It is named after Charles Carroll, a Revolutionary War veteran and the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. The gardens that lend their name stem from the unusually large yards that front the brownstones lining the neighborhood's streets. This was a result of a plan drawn up in 1846 by the land surveyor Richard Butt. The large yards meant that the streets were generally narrow and one-way, keeping the neighborhood quiet and residential. Part of the neighborhood has been landmarked as a historic district.
Cough Triangle is located near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE, which was constructed under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses between 1946 and 1964 at a cost of $137 million. Built to relieve congestion on local streets and to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs, the six-lane, 11.7-mile-long BQE received Federal, state and city funds. After repeated reconstruction projects in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the BQE will receive a $240-million, 4-year rehabilitation from the New York State Department of Transportation, scheduled to be completed in 2004.
Cough Triangle is not, as some residents joke, named for pollution from the BQE, but after the streets that bound it. The C-O-U come from Court Street, which was named for the Kings County Courthouse, built in 1861 and designed by architects Gemaliel King and Herman Teckritz. It was demolished in 1961. The street also fronts the Brooklyn Borough Hall, another building designed by King. The G comes from Garnet Street, and the H comes from Hamilton Avenue, which was named after Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804). Hamilton is perhaps most famous for writing the majority of the Federalist Papers, but, as Washington's Secretary of the Treasury, he was also the architect of the new nation's financial system. Hamilton's innovative use of bonds and his delicate arrangements of payments saved the United States from bankruptcy and allowed the economy to grow explosively. Brilliant but controversial, Hamilton was active in national politics, often in opposition to Thomas Jefferson. He was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel in Weehauken, New Jersey.
Cough Triangle was acquired by the City of New York for street purposes in 1940-1953. It was transferred to Parks in 1942. In 2000, Mayor Giuliani spent $5,000 to renovate Cough Triangle as a Greenstreets site. Begun in 1986 and revived in 1994, Greenstreets is a program of Parks and Transportation funded through Parks' capital budget that plants trees and shrubs in some of the smaller city parks and squares. The renovation has turned Cough Triangle into a breath of fresh air in the busy city.