This small triangle near Flushing Hospital Medical Center honors General George J. Lawrence, Jr. (1881-1949), a doctor, soldier, banker and athlete, whose extraordinary career made him a leader in many major Flushing institutions.
He graduated from St. Francis College in Brooklyn in 1902, and continued his pursuits at the University of Pennsylvania, where he excelled not only in his medical studies, but also at sports. Lawrence was captain of the Penn basketball team, and was the star quarterback on Penn’s 1906 football team. He also served as president of the University’s Deaver Surgical Society. Lawrence graduated from University of Pennsylvania in 1907 with a M.D., and went on to practice medicine at the Flushing Hospital. He headed the departments of obstetrics and gynecology for many years, was nominated president of the Queens Surgical Society upon the organization’s founding, and also served as president of the Flushing Hospital’s Board.
In 1908, Lawrence joined the Flushing National Guard. He was promoted to the rank of First Lieutenant in the 12th Regiment Medical Corps in 1911. Lawrence served in the 69th Regiment during World War I, and received two silver stars for his valor in combat while he was stationed in France.
He excelled in his military service, earning the title of Lieutenant Colonel at the close of World War I, and the title of Brigadier General after World War II. He worked to form a State Guard, and at Camp Smith, he received his highest promotion to General in 1946. His military commitment did not end with his service in both World Wars; he remained active in veterans affairs, serving as First Commander of the Leonard Legion Post in Flushing. As a civilian, his career continued to evolve when he became vice-president of the Flushing Savings Bank. Additionally, he chaired many hospital and community committees, continuing his practice of public service through leadership and medicine.
The park named for him was originally owned by Mr. John J. Gleason and his wife, Mary A. Gleason. The Gleasons headed the Flushing Garden Club, and in March 1938, they presented the park to the club as a gift. In July of that year, the Flushing Garden Club presented the land to the Flushing Hospital to be used by hospital patients as an outdoor retreat during their stay. The hospital then granted the park to the City of New York in July 1939. The WPA (Works Progress Administration) worked to improve the park for general use by planting trees, grass and flowers, paving the paths, and removing an old gate. A local law named the park in honor of Lawrence in 1951. Between 1996 and 1997, Mayor Giuliani provided over $50,000 for park renovations, which included sidewalk, path, and fence reconstruction, and other site work. The park is now planted with several varieties of flowers, shrubs, and trees, including London planetrees (platanus x acerifolia). Many community residents volunteer their time to keep Lawrence Triangle beautiful for the whole neighborhood.