This South Bronx park is named for New York City’s 96th mayor (1917-1925), John F. Hylan (1869-1936), who began his career as motorman on an elevated train line, and ascended to the highest elected office in the City.
John Hylan was born in Greene County, New York, on April 20, 1868. He lived on a farm before coming to Brooklyn in his late teens. Hylan’s work on the train line paid his way through law school. While studying law, Hylan befriended John McCooey, a local politician. McCooey, who soon became the Democratic boss of Kings County, assisted him in attaining a series of local judicial positions in Brooklyn (1906-1917).
By 1917 Tammany Hall, which had controlled New York City’s politics for years, became discontented with the incumbent reform mayor, John Purroy Mitchell (1879-1918). Following endorsements from McCooey and influential publisher William Randolph Hearst (1863-1951), Tammany Hall nominated Hylan, who won the next two elections. During his largely undistinguished eight years as mayor, Hylan dealt with the city’s 1919-1920 transit problems. With New York City expanding at a rapid rate, the City’s mass transit system needed to be improved. Hylan fought to keep the subway system under municipal ownership, and his handling of the mass transit strike while maintaining the subway fare at five cents in 1920 helped him in his landslide reelection bid the following year.
In a speech on March 26, 1922, Hylan stated, “The real menace to our republic is the invisible government which, like a giant octopus, sprawls its slimy length over our City, State and Nation.” Hylan generally believed that an elite group of businessmen had been controlling politics since the United States’s inception. In 1925 Hylan sought an unprecedented third term as mayor, but lost to the charismatic Jimmy Walker. On January 12, 1936, Hylan suffered a heart attack and died in Queens at the age of 68.
Hylan Park, located at the intersection of Third Avenue, East 176th Street, and the Cross Bronx Expressway, was one of several parcels of land in the area purchased by the city between 1883 and 1907. Originally considered to be part of nearby Crotona Park, the 15 acre sitting area was renamed Hylan Park by Parks Commissioner Stern in 1987. This expansive, sloping park includes dozens of benches, a series of walkways, grassy areas, and Norway maple (Acer platanoides) trees that dot its hilly terrain. Hylan Boulevard in Staten Island, and the John F. Hylan Public School in Brooklyn also honor the former mayor.
Directions to Crotona Park
Know Before You Go
Crotona Park Nature Center
The Crotona Park Nature Center is currently closed, with no public access.
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