Colgate Close

Colgate Close Park

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

This park, like the streets that bound it, honors John Cloes, an early pioneer of the New York area, and James Colgate (1818-1904), the famous financier and philanthropist.

Though not much is known of John Cloes, his descendent Odell Close changed the spelling of the family name for political purposes, subsequently serving as a delegate to Albany from 1867-73. James Boorman Colgate was born into a privileged New York City family, and lived in the city for much of his youth. He began working at the age of 16 for his relatives at Boorman, Johnson and Company, and in 1852 Colgate took the initiative to form a stock-brokerage partnership with John B. Trevor. Trevor and Colgate regulated much of the gold and paper exchange during the Civil War. After naming his business Colgate and Company in 1873, Colgate assumed presidency of the New York Gold Exchange, a position he would hold until late in his life.

Colgate generously donated to religious and educational institutions, especially to the building of the Warburton Avenue Baptist Church in Yonkers and the establishment of Colgate Academy in Hamilton, New York. Colgate also substantially endowed Madison University in Hamilton, New York, and was named president of the Board of Trustees. In 1890, Colgate successfully persuaded the Board of Trustees to rename the school for his father, and today it is called Colgate University. Colgate also contributed heavily to other schools in New England, such as Colby Academy in New Hampshire, named for his wife, Susan Colby.

Colgate Avenue was once part of the expansive William Watson property that occupied much of what is now the Soundview neighborhood. Around 1900, the land was divided, and one of the streets was named Damish Avenue, after an early Bronx colonist named Sherrod Damish. In 1911, the street’s name was changed to Colgate Avenue.

The City of New York acquired this park, located off the Bruckner Expressway on Colgate and Close Avenues, on August 17, 1958. In 1985 this park underwent a major restoration. In 1995, City Council Member Lucy Cruz allocated $29,000 towards improving the park. On May 9, 1997, City Councilman Federico Perez and Commissioner Stern named the property Colgate Close Park.

The park includes a well-maintained baseball field, with artistic designs on its outfield fence and a picture of Cubby the Catcher adorning its backstop. There is also a lush garden behind the baseball field, filled with a variety of plants and flowers, benches, and chess tables.

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