Cuyler Gore Park

Cuyler Gore

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

A "gore" is a small triangular park, a meaning derived from the definition of a gore as a triangular piece of material inserted in a garment, sail, etc. to widen it or change its shape. It derives from the Old English word gara meaning corner. Other gore parks in Brooklyn include Cooper, Grant, Memorial, and Underhill Gores.

The western portion of this gore was purchased by the City of Brooklyn in 1845 for one dollar. The site was named for a prominent local minister, Dr. Theodore Ledyard Cuyler (1822-1909). Born in Aura, New York and educated by his mother, Cuyler graduated from Princeton College in 1841 and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1846. He served as a minister to a series of congregations in Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey, where he married Annie E. Mathiot in 1850.

Dr. Cuyler assumed the leadership of the Park Presbyterian Church in the City of Brooklyn in 1860. His earnest work and dynamic personality attracted so many congregants that a new building, the Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church, was erected on South Oxford Street (just a block to the northwest) in 1861-62. Over the course of his distinguished career, Dr. Cuyler delivered more than 3000 sermons, gave almost 2000 addresses, and wrote between 3000 and 4000 articles and more than sixty books. A patriotic man, he had the Union flag hoisted atop the church steeple for the duration of the Civil War.

The triangular park at the corner of Fulton Street and Greene Avenue was named for Dr. Cuyler prior to 1901. In that year Brooklynites planned to erect a monument to the esteemed minister in Cuyler Gore. With characteristic modesty, Dr. Cuyler declined their offer. He wrote, "If my most esteemed friend the park commissioner will kindly have my name visibly and permanently affixed to that little park, and will direct that it be always kept as bright and beautiful with flowers as it now is, I shall be abundantly satisfied."

For much of its first century Cuyler Park consisted of a well-maintained lawn, flowering shrubs, and adult trees, all surrounded by an iron fence and benches outside. In the 1960s and 1970s many of the trees were removed, and the park deteriorated. In 1980 renovations began when ground was broken with the same shovel that Dr. Cuyler had used for the church groundbreaking 119 years before. The park reopened in 1981 with new landscaping, play areas, seating, and trees. The park was expanded in 1983 with the closing of a portion of Cumberland Street and the assignment of a parcel on Carlton Avenue. Another reconstruction project in 1989 provided new trees, brick paths, and benches. The park remains free of monuments but full of trees and flowers, just as Dr. Cuyler instructed.

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