In the late 1600s the land that is now Juan Pablo Duarte Square was developed as a farm by Trinity Church. A forty-foot-wide canal was built to the south in 1810 to drain the pestilent Collect Pond into the Hudson River. The canal was filled in 1819 and now forms Canal Street. As the city spread northward, this became an important commercial thoroughfare. Canal Street achieved further prominence with the construction of the Holland Tunnel at its western end in 1927.
Juan Pablo Duarte Square was officially dedicated in 1945, when Sixth Avenue was renamed Avenue of the Americas in celebration of Pan-American unity. The name of the square, located near the southern end of the Avenue of the Americas, honors Juan Pablo Duarte (1813-1876), the liberator of the Dominican Republic.