Colonel Charles Young Triangle

Colonel Charles Young Triangle

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

Colonel Charles Young (1864-1922) was a distinguished army officer, cartographer, teacher, and diplomat who pioneered the entrance of African-Americans into fields that were previously closed to them. He was born in Mayslick, Kentucky on March 12, 1864, one year before the end of the Civil War. He moved to Ohio at the age of nine and graduated from Ripley Colored High School in 1880. When he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1884, Young was the ninth African-American to be admitted, and the third and last to graduate until nearly half a century later.

In 1894 he was assigned by the War Department to teach military science and tactics, in addition to French and mathematics, at Wilberforce University in Ohio. Young commanded the 9th Ohio Volunteer Infantry on the home front during the Spanish-American War in 1898 and served two tours in the Philippine Insurrection between 1901 and 1903. Three years later, Young was appointed as military attaché to Haiti. He was the first African-American military attaché in United States history. In addition to making maps, Young reported to the Army War College on Haitian society and government, and wrote a book entitled Military Morale of Nations and Races (1912).

From 1912 to 1915 Young served as military attaché to Liberia, where he helped to reorganize the National Military Constabulary. In 1916 he was awarded the Spingarn medal by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for his exceptional work in Liberia. After leading the 10th Cavalry Regiment on a punitive expedition against bandit Pancho Villa in Mexico in 1916, Young established a school for African-American soldiers at Fort Huachuca, Arizona. When he was found to be physically unfit for service in World War I, Young was retired and promoted to full Colonel. Young died in Lagos, Nigeria on January 8, 1922. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Located at Macombs Place and Adam Clayton Powell Boulevard between 153rd and 154th Streets, this is one of two Harlem parks named for Colonel Young (the other is a playground located between Lenox Avenue/Malcolm X Boulevard and Harlem River Drive from 143rd Street to 145th Street). This site, originally called the Harlem Lane Park, was acquired by Parks in 1893. The Board of Aldermen named the triangle in Young’s memory on June 22, 1937. A second parcel was leased by the Housing Authority to the City for park purposes in 1957.

In 1996-97, Colonel Charles Young Triangle was renovated under a requirements contract funded by Mayor Giuliani. The reconstruction included repairing the bordering sidewalks, installing a new steel picket fence, repaving interior paths, and replanting the lawn. Shaded by sycamore, maple, and elm trees, this park provides benches and grass for visitors to enjoy a quiet respite near the Harlem River.

Park Information

Directions to Colonel Charles Young Triangle

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