Reverend Matthew J. Crosson (1908-1986) was born in Greenwich Village. He moved to Woodside when he was eighteen years old in 1926, was ordained in 1934 and began working in the Bronx soon thereafter. From 1941 to 1946, Crosson served as an Army chaplain in the South Pacific where he won several citations for his remarkable bravery and devotion. After World War II, Crosson returned to the United States and held several pastorates throughout the New York City area. He was the pastor of St. Patrick’s Church in Highland Mills, New York, from 1964 until 1968, when he died. People all over New York affectionately referred to him as “the baseball priest” because of his long-standing associations with youth athletic leagues.
In December 1936, the Regional Plan Association recommended the construction of a link between the Gowanus Parkway and the Triborough Bridge. What was then called the Brooklyn-Queens Connecting Highway was to be financed equally by federal, state and city funds. The construction of the Kosciuszko Bridge over Newtown Creek in 1939 was the first piece of what would later become the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, colloquially referred to as the BQE. The route of today’s BQE was adopted by Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888-1981) in late 1945 and was constructed in the 1950s and 1960s.
On November 17, 1955, the City of New York acquired this Woodside land in order to carry out renovations on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. Jurisdiction over this land was conveyed to Parks later that day. Renovations on the property included modifications of the lines and grades of the street system and the laying out of six “sitting parks”—Jennings Park, Latham Park, Sherry Park, Spargo Park, Crosson Green and Crosson Park. The city built an access road to connect the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Queens Boulevard. Widening the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in this area was necessary to provide for an accelerating lane on the expressway. Crosson Park resides at the intersection of 69th Street, Woodside Avenue, and the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway.
Crosson Park was previously called Winfield Plaza after the former northwest Queens neighborhood. In May 1854, a hamlet was built by Manhattan developers G.G. Andrews and J.F. Kendall. They named the area Winfield after General Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886), a hero of the Mexican and American Civil Wars who earned the nicknames “Hancock the Superb,” “Thunderbolt of the Army of the Potomac,” and “Hero of Gettysburg.” The name Winfield became disused after World War II, and the former neighborhood became part of Maspeth and Woodside. In 1968, a local law passed by the City Council named this Reverend Matthew J. Crosson Memorial Park after the accomplished clergyman.
Crosson Park exists today as a small square, characterized by a circle of greenery, and surrounding benches. A drinking fountain and tall trees also decorate the park.