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Court Square Park

Corporal Ruoff Triangle

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

Corporal John Ruoff was the first resident of Ozone Park to perish on the battlefields of Europe during World War I (1914-1918). Ruoff, who resided at 2212 Clinton Place, was killed in action on August 14, 1918, while fighting as a member of Company 1 of the 306th Infantry. In addition to this triangle having been named in his honor, there is a Ruoff Square located on Rockaway Boulevard in Ozone Park. The Corporal’s picture also hangs in the Memorial Room of Corporal John Ruoff Morelli Hargreaves American Legion post 632, located at 91-11 101st Avenue.

Ruoff Triangle, bounded by Cross Bay and Rockaway Boulevards, is located in Ozone Park. Originally occupied by Native Americans of the Jameco and Rockaway Tribes, Ozone Park remained a sparsely settled, largely agricultural area through the 19th century. Ozone Park began to take on its modern form when music publisher Benjamin W. Hitchcock developed the land in the 1880s. Hitchcock hoped to draw residents to his development by marketing the “invigorating and healthful breezes” that swept in from Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Ozone Park takes its name from Hitchcock’s marketing slogan, as “ozone” connoted pleasant breezes in the 19th century rather than the atmospheric layer that most associate with the word today.

In 1907, real estate developer David Leahy began to build small homes in the southern portion of Ozone Park. He lured middle-class buyers with the promise that only a small down payment and additional monthly fees would secure them a “four-room cottage in the country.” The arrival of elevated train service to Jamaica in 1908 made the area even more attractive to city residents, beginning a long period of growth in Ozone Park, South Ozone Park, and Richmond Hill. In addition, the widening of Rockaway Boulevard in 1929 and the construction of the Van Wyck Expressway in 1950 encouraged further expansion.

The city acquired the land that is now Ruoff Triangle through condemnation on November 30, 1927. In 1996, Mayor Giuliani funded a $42,000 renovation of the park, repairing sidewalks and paved areas. The refurbishment also added plantings that complement the triangle’s tree-lined seating area.

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