What was here before?
This site was once part of the estate of Edward T. Backhouse (1806-1884), who was a fruit merchant, President of Kings County Fire Insurance Company, and an Alderman of the 11th ward in Brooklyn. He is interned in Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery.
How did this site become a square?
This parcel of land was established as City property and a public place in 1918. In 1923 it became a memorial under the auspices of the Bud H. Alben Post #1436 Veterans of Foreign Wars and was named Alben Memorial Square. The triangle shortly fell into disrepair, until the Bud Alben Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars presented a flagpole with a memorial plaque on the base of the pole and the park reopened under the Parks department jurisdiction in 1935 and the name was shortened to Alben Square.
Who is this square named for?
This Triangle honors the memory of Bud H. Alben (1896-1918), a private in the First Army, 360th Regiment who died during the Saint-Mihiel Offensive in World War I.
Born Binyamin Alben to Russian-Jewish immigrants in New York City, he was raised in Borough Park, Brooklyn where he attended P.S. 164 and Manual Training High School before trying to enlist several times in the American Expeditionary Forces. He was eventually drafted into the service on April 29, 1918. He was wounded by a shell in an engagement against German machine gun positions in the Bois-le-Pretre on September 13, and died from his wounds on September 21, two months before the Armistice. His commanding officer, Captain Conner, wrote to his parents that Bud was particularly popular because of his sense of humor and ability to entertain his comrades.
According to a chaplain’s letter, Alben was given a Christian burial. His distraught parents had his remains disinterred in 1921 and reburied in New York in accordance with Jewish custom. Local veterans founded the Bud H. Alben VFW Post #1436 in his memory and sought a public open space for a memorial to comrades killed in the war.