Lt. Wm. Tighe Triangle
Lt. William Tighe Triangle (Ring Garden)
This park honors Lieutenant William Tighe (1887-1944), an Inwood community leader and a veteran of two world wars. Tighe was born in England on February 7, 1887, to parents of Irish descent, John Tighe and Mary Dixon. William eventually moved to Inwood and lived at 200 Dyckman Street, working as a clerk in various locales. Active in both World War I and World War II, Tighe was decorated several times. Between the two wars, he was an active member of the American Legion and the Catholic War Veterans, while working as the secretary of the Inwood Chamber of Commerce. During World War II, Tighe became incapacitated and was taken to the Veterans Hospital Base 81 on nearby Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx, where he died on September 27, 1944.
Long before its present incarnation, the Tighe Triangle was home to very different residents. Native American pottery and a 13,000-year-old mammoth (mamut americanum) tusk recovered near the garden in the late 1800s can now be found in the American Museum of Natural History. The City acquired the land in 1927, as a part of the land purchase for the extension of Seaman Avenue from Dyckman Street to Riverside Drive, and the widening of the intersection of Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street. On January 1, 1938 the land was transferred to the jurisdiction of Parks. Two years later it was given the formal name of Inwood Plaza by local law. In 1950 another local law renamed the triangle to honor the man who had cared for it and put up its Christmas tree each year, Lieutenant William Tighe.
Lieutenant William Tighe Triangle is also known as Riverside Inwood Neighborhood Gardens (RING). Formed in 1984, RING spent four years gardening at nearby 1815 Riverside Drive. This award-winning site was bulldozed in 1987 by the private owner. In 1988 and 1989, RING acquired the funds for a new garden from Assemblyman Brian Murtaugh, State Senator Franz Leichter, and from Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center’s Neighborhood Fund. At the urging of RING members Maggie Clarke and Arthur Sherry, and that of Council Member Stanley E. Michels, Parks decided to make the new RING garden a Greenstreets site, the second in Manhattan.
The Greenstreets program, a joint project of Parks and the Department of Transportation, was created to convert paved street properties into green spaces. At this site, Parks provided a chain link fence, soil, and the labor to put railroad ties together to hold in the raised beds. RING’s funds were used to buy the railroad ties and the new plantings, and RING volunteers created the retaining wall of the central grassy oval from local schist rock. A blue dwarf spruce was planted on the Broadway end of the garden. Members of the garden decorate the tree each year, and light a wooden menorah. The garden at Tighe has won awards from Columbia Presbyterian, six Mollie Parnis Dress Up Your Neighborhood Contests, and a National Gardening Association award.
The much-celebrated design is inspired by European ornamental gardens, and planted with hundreds of varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, groundcovers, and bulbs. When the railroad ties that hold in the soil began to deteriorate in the mid 1990s, Borough President Ruth Messinger allocated $232,000 in funds for renovations, begun in 1996. Further funding from Council Member Michels brought the work to completion in February of 2000. The renovation enlarged the gardening space and brought new water connections and a drinking fountain to the garden. A wrought iron fence decorated with butterfly art and including two new gates now borders the garden. Further additions include concrete walls to hold in the soil, a performance plaza, and a tool-shed.
RING volunteers enriched the plantings, designed and installed five underground watering systems, and enlarged the solar-powered water circulation system to include seven pools and a waterfall. These are powered by several additional solar photovoltaic collectors and batteries. The pond complex, with its large goldfish and koi, natural bog plantings, and floating plants, enhances the Garden’s ability to delight and educate local schoolchildren and community members. Emphasis is placed on gardening techniques and environmental concerns. Two compost bins are used to convert organic wastes into fertilizer for the garden. RING holds planting and harvesting festivals each year, in addition to a new annual event, ‘Art in the Garden.’ A butterfly festival in July celebrates the ten butterfly species attracted to the blooming garden. The RING Garden is open to the public on Saturday mornings, several weekday evenings throughout the summer, and varying times for special events and seasonal public usage.