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Nine Heroes Plaza

Vietnam Veterans Triangle

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

The Vietnam Veterans Triangle lies within the Nine Heroes Plaza in the Elmhurst section of Queens. The parkland was first acquired by the City and transferred to Parks in October 1924. Nine Heroes Plaza is a reference to the 14th century French tapestries on display at the Cloisters in Fort Tryon Park.

The “Nine Heroes Tapestries” were created around 1385 by French artist Nicolas Bataille. Woven into the fabric are representations of nine legendary heroes. The hangings portray three Hebrew heroes (Joshua, David, Judas), three Christian heroes (Maccabeus, Charlemagne, Arthur, Godfrey of Boullion), and three classical heroes (Hector, Alexander the Great, and Julius Caesar). Bataille drew inspiration from a well-known 14th-century poem by Jacques de Longuyon whose main character was braver than the nine great heroes.

The Vietnam Veterans Triangle retains the nine heroes theme and is a memorial to nine servicemen from Elmhurst who died in the Vietnam War (1964-1975). Jean-Claude Esnault was the first Elmhurst soldier to die in the war. The remaining eight men, Irwin Lewis Hoffman, Carlos Ugarte, Eduardo Paul Branes, David Bruce Tucker, Jeffrey Perez, Bruce Levy, Uldis Jack Malmanis, and Carlos Alberto Pedrosa, were all decorated soldiers from the neighborhood. The nine men and all the casualties of the war in Vietnam are commemorated on a cone-shaped monument that serves as the base of a flagpole located in the center of the park. Above the commemorative panels adorning the monument is a frieze of horses with flag & sword emblems. Below the flagpole is a band of stars and American eagles. Shrubs and rose bushes planted in a circular pattern surround the memorial, as do several benches.

Elmhurst was originally the colonial village of Newtown, and its streets are lined with 19th-century estates as well as modern apartment buildings. In 1893 Cord Meyer, a Brooklyn attorney, purchased the property belonging to Samuel Lord, the founder of the Lord and Taylor Department Store and the largest landowner in Newtown. Meyer and his brothers transformed Newtown from a declining agricultural region into a middle class residential area. They laid down streets, constructed a sewer system, brought in gas and electricity, built a bank, and set up a system of trolley cars. To reflect the change in Newtown’s fortunes, and to disassociate it from the polluted Newtown Creek, Newtown was renamed Elmhurst for the groves of elm trees in the neighborhood (although Newtown High School and Newtown Road are reminders of its colonial past). Elmhurst continued to develop through the 20th century, and begins the 21st as one of the most diverse communities in the United States, home to immigrants from Asia, South America, Europe, and Africa.

Vietnam Veterans Triangle is located near the Elmhurst Hospital Center, and is bounded by 76th Street, 41st Avenue, and Broadway. In 1998, Council Member John D. Sabini contributed $271,000 towards renovations.

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