Jabez E. Dunningham (1868-1945), an Elmhurst resident, was celebrated as a father of civic progress. Born in England, Dunningham became the London representative for the publisher Joseph Pulitzer (1847-1911) in the early 1890s. He moved to New York in 1896 and worked for Pulitzer until the publisher’s death in 1911. After his publishing career ended, Dunningham devoted himself to fighting for public improvements.
Dunningham moved to Elmhurst, Queens, in the early 1920s and founded the Queens Council of Civic Associations. He lobbied against pollution, excessive garbage, and other problems affecting Queens. He was also an early and vocal supporter of mass transit on Staten Island. Dunningham lived at 40-71 Denman Street, within walking distance of this triangle, and died on April 28, 1945, at the age of 77.
The City of New York acquired the land that is now Dunningham Triangle by condemnation on September 10, 1924, as part of the widening of Baxter Avenue. The property was conveyed to Parks later that day. Dunningham Triangle is bounded by Baxter Avenue, Ithaca Street, and 82nd Street, and was initially landscaped as a center plot of grass and shrubbery, bordered by benches.
On May 20, 1928, the Board of Aldermen named this small park Jackson Plaza Triangle, after the nearby Jackson Heights neighborhood and the former Jackson Avenue (now Northern Boulevard). These had both been named for named for John Jackson (1809-1889), the former President of the Hunter’s Point, Newtown and Flushing Turnpike Company, which built Jackson Avenue in the early 1860s. Months after Dunningham’s death in 1945, a local law renamed the park in his honor.
Dunningham Triangle houses three lampposts, a flagpole, benches, shrubbery, and London planetrees, a species known for its ability to survive under harsh conditions. In 1999, Councilman John D. Sabini sponsored a $138,513 reconstruction of this triangle’s pavement and benches.