The neighborhood of Carroll Gardens was created during the 1960s, when the area was cut off from the rest of Red Hook by the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE. It is named after Charles Carroll, a Revolutionary War veteran and the only Roman Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. The eponymous “gardens” refer to the unusually large yards that front the brownstones lining the neighborhood’s streets. This was a result of a plan drawn up in 1846 by the land surveyor Richard Butts. The large yards meant that the streets were generally narrow and one-way, keeping the neighborhood quiet and residential. The Carroll Gardens Historic District, which includes President and Carroll Streets between Smith and Hoyt Streets and the western edge of the blocks between First and President Streets, was designated in 1973.
The park is located near the BQE, which was constructed under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses between 1946 and 1964 to relieve congestion on local streets and to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs. The six-lane, 11.7-mile-long BQE received Federal, state and city funds.
Cough Triangle is not, as some residents joke, named for pollution from the BQE, but after the streets that surround it. The C-O-U come from Court Street, which was named for the Kings County Courthouse, built in 1861 and designed by architects Gemaliel King and Herman Teckritz. The building was demolished in 1961. The G comes from Garnet Street, and the H comes from Hamilton Avenue, which was named after Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804). Hamilton is perhaps most famous for writing the majority of the Federalist Papers. As Secretary of the Treasury, he was also the architect of the new nation’s financial system. Hamilton’s innovative use of bonds and his delicate arrangements of payments saved the United States from bankruptcy and allowed the economy to grow explosively. Brilliant but controversial, Hamilton was active in national politics, often in opposition to Thomas Jefferson. He was killed by Aaron Burr in a duel in Weehauken, New Jersey.
Cough Triangle was acquired by the City of New York for street purposes in 1940. It was transferred to Parks in 1942. In 2000, mayoral funds were used to renovate Cough Triangle as a Greenstreet. The Greenstreets program, started in 1986, is a collaboration between Parks and the NYC Department of Transportation that aims to transform paved street properties such as triangles and malls into greenspaces. The renovation has turned Cough Triangle into a breath of fresh air in the busy city.