There are four differing stories as to how Featherbed Lane, which runs adjacent to, and is the namesake of this triangle, came to obtain its name. One says that during the Revolutionary War, locals covered the street with feather beds so soldiers fighting the British could move quietly through the area. Another declares the road to have been so rough that those who traveled on it padded their carriage seats with featherbeds to keep it from being too uncomfortable. A third story, partly contradicting the first two, suggests that the road’s muddy composition provided a similar effect to that of a featherbed and made for a very smooth ride. The last story has nothing to do with the road itself, but suggests that the name dates from the 1840s, when the area was home, and office, to a large number of prostitutes.
University Avenue, which also borders this park, was named after New York University (NYU). Founded in 1831, NYU’s original move from Greenwich Village to the Bronx occurred in 1894 when Chancellor Henry Mitchell MacCracken (1840-1918), the man credited with turning NYU into a modern institution, moved the bulk of its operations to what would soon become known as University Heights.
It occupied a 50-acre campus, located at 180th street between Sedgwick and University Avenues, until 1973 when it sold the land to City University (CUNY) in order to mitigate financial difficulties. The Bronx Community College, which was founded in 1957 and joined CUNY with its establishment in 1961, now occupies the campus.
The City of New York acquired Featherbed Triangle by condemnation on December 23, 1893, and it was transferred to Parks on April 20, 1897. The original construction, including a concrete sidewalk, was in 1935. In 1981 a blue stone curb was added. Commissioner Stern named the park Featherbed Triangle on June 17, 1987. The triangle contains benches and a small center green.