Lady Moody Triangle
Lady Moody Triangle
Lady Deborah Moody (ca.1583-1659), a wealthy, Protestant widow, left England for America in 1639, and in 1645, settled in Brooklyn. She founded the town of Gravesend, naming it after her hometown in the Old World. Lady Moody became the first woman in the New World to receive a land patent, to write the first town charter in English in New Netherland, and to established one of the first towns with a square block plan in the New World. Furthermore, Gravesend’s policy of religious freedom set it apart from most colonial settlements.
Lady Moody and her assemblage of Anabaptists landed in New England, but met with a cold welcome from the Puritans who controlled the region. In 1643, she moved to New Amsterdam and, on December 19, 1645, Dutch Governor Kieft granted Moody land in the south of what is now Brooklyn.
As the only English town in Brooklyn, Gravesend quickly developed an air of self-sufficiency from the five neighboring Dutch towns. Starting with a stockaded town square, Moody based the design of Gravesend on Kent, England. She founded the town hall government, started a school, and established a church. Gravesend’s design was one of the earliest in the New World to employ a block grid system. McDonald Avenue and Gravesend Neck Road formed the crossroads of the old foursquare town (16 acres).
The outline of Gravesend’s block formation can still be observed on a map within Village Road North, East, and South and Van Siclen Street. Lady Moody’s grave is said to be located in the cemetery around the block from this triangle on Gravesend Neck Road between Van Siclen Street and McDonald Avenue. Gravesend Avenue (renamed McDonald Avenue in 1933) ran from the heart of town to the City of Brooklyn, providing residents of Gravesend with a route for trade and travel thoughout Kings County.
For 200 years after Moody’s death, the town remained largely rural. Towards the end of the 19th century, Dutch and German farmers joined the established English population, and, in 1894, Gravesend was incorporated into the City of Brooklyn. The rail lines built through Gravesend at the end of the century, and the 1898 consolidation of Brooklyn with New York City spelled the end of the old English town’s bucolic era.
Lady Moody Triangle, formed by Village Road North, Lake Street, and Avenue U, contains a yardarm flagpole at its point, with a granite plinth and bronze plaque dedicated to the neighborhood’s World War II casualties. In the center of the triangle stands a large granite memorial for Gravesend Veterans. On the north side is an engraving of an American Bald Eagle perched on a stone, with the seals of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard below. The opposite side briefly explains the history of Gravesend and indicates that the community placed a time capsule near the monument on October 4, 1987.
In 1999, Mayor Giuliani funded a $23,850 renovation of the site, which provided new paving and added a planting area, lined with Belgian paving stones. The new green area, which contains Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia), Inkberry (Ilex glabra), and Creeping euonymus (Euonymus repens), complements the triangle’s six mature London planetrees (platanus x acerifolia).