This park commemorates Staten Island resident Frederick Staats (1894-1918). Staats was born in the neighborhood of Rosebank on October 14, 1894. A resident of 1189 Bay Street, he worked as a brakeman for Staten Island Rapid Transit before registering for the draft on June 5, 1917. His draft card describes the young man as tall and slender, with blue eyes and dark brown hair. Private Staats was killed in World War I (1914-1918), on September 30, 1918, while serving in Company C of the 306th Infantry’s machine gun nest.
On June 5, 1928, the Board of Aldermen (predecessor of the City Council) bestowed the name of Frederick Staats on a circular piece of land in the neighborhood known as Grasmere. Since its construction in 1926, Frederick Staats Circle has undergone considerable alteration. The circle is, in fact, no longer a circle at all, but two curvilinear triangles. The shape was changed to improve traffic flow and protect pedestrians at a busy intersection during a construction project that began on September 20, 1976. The Department of Transportation created raised islands, installed traffic lights, and cut Staats Circle’s area by half. The project was expected to take ten days, but it lasted more than a year, and required the participation of Departments of Highway, Traffic, Parks, Water Supply, Gas and Electricity.
Parks relinquished ownership of the circle, but has since adopted the traffic triangles as part of the Greenstreets program, a collaborative effort by Parks and the Department of Transportation to convert paved, unused traffic islands into green spaces filled with shade trees, flowering trees, shrubs, and groundcover. In each contained space, clusters of plants create cool, moist microclimates amid car exhaust fumes and reflected heat. The size of Greenstreets properties varies from borough to borough, but on average, those in Staten Island are among the largest.
In the center of this grassy site, bounded by Hylan Boulevard, Fingerboard Road, and Sand Lane, stands a stone monument dedicated to the memory of Frederick Staats by the American Legion. A circle of red cobblestones surrounds the monument, a reminder of the property’s original shape.