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Alexander Grey Triangle

Alex Grey Triangle

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

This property honors Alexander C. Grey (d.1933), a veteran Queens newspaper man from Whitestone. Grey suffered a fractured skull and died in Queens Flushing Hospital on March 21, 1933. He was single and 66 years old at the time of his death. He is buried in Flushing Cemetery. A 1940 local law renamed the park to honor Grey, a respected community member.

The triangle was originally known as Francis Lewis Square, named in honor of merchant, patriot, and co-signer of the Declaration of Independence Francis Lewis (1713-1802). Lewis was born in Llandaff, Wales and served an apprenticeship to a London merchant before moving to America in 1738. Upon his arrival in the colonies, Lewis began a successful trading company that operated out of New York City and Philadelphia. The enterprise became successful supplying goods to British troops during the French and Indian War (1755-1763), during which Lewis also served as a British Staff Officer.

Lewis’s success in trade allowed him to retire by 1765 and move to Whitestone, Queens, where he began a career in politics. In 1774 Lewis served as a New York delegate to the Provincial Convention, and was elected to the Continental Congress, serving from 1775 to 1779. This allowed Lewis to become the seventh--and at 63 one of the oldest--signers of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. During the course of the Revolutionary War (1776-1781), Lewis served on the Secret Committee, which imported munitions, and the Marine Committee, which administered naval affairs.

His patriotic actions would prove costly during the fall of 1776, when British troops destroyed Lewis's home, located near this site at 152nd Street and 7th Avenue, and abducted his wife. Although the British did release her, she died prematurely in 1779 due to the harsh conditions of her captivity. Defeated for reelection to the Continental Congress of 1779, Lewis was appointed to the Board of Admiralty, which replaced the Marine Committee. In the years before his death, Francis Lewis served as a vestryman for the Trinity Church in New York City.

The Whitestone community where Lewis and Grey made their homes was purchased by the Dutch from the Matinecock tribe in 1645 at the price of one ax per fifty acres. They named the area for a large white boulder that broke the tides along the shore.

In 1961, Alex Grey Triangle, bounded by Clintonville Street, 7th Avenue, and 151st Street, was transferred to Parks from the office of Borough President John T. Clancy, due to city charter changes. Developed by the Department of Transportation in 1990, Alex Grey Triangle today is a pleasant open space landscaped with plantings.

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