There are four differing stories as to how Featherbed Lane, which runs adjacent to, and is the namesake of this triangle, came to obtain its name. One says that during the Revolutionary War, locals covered the street with feather beds so soldiers fighting the British could move quietly through the area. Another declares the road to have been so rough that those who traveled on it padded their carriage seats with featherbeds to keep it from being too uncomfortable. A third story, partly contradicting the first two, suggests that the road’s muddy composition provided a similar effect to that of a featherbed and made for a very smooth ride. The last story has nothing to do with the road itself, but suggests that the name dates from the 1840s, when the area was home, and office, to a large number of prostitutes.
This landscaped triangle is bounded to the west by Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, also known as University Avenue. This street and the bounding neighborhood of University Heights to the north make reference to New York University which established itself in this area in the late 19th century. Founded in 1831, New York University (‘NYU’) was first based in Greenwich Village and moved to the Bronx in 1894. Henry Mitchell MacCracken (1840-1918), a Presbyterian minister and professor of philosophy became the chancellor of the university in 1891 and envisioned the new campus on a picturesque hill of the old Mali estate at one of the highest natural elevations in New York City. The resulting 50-acre campus, located at 180th street between Sedgwick and University Avenues, was laid out by the notable architectural firm McKim, Mead and White, and still includes architectural relics of that age, namely Stanford White’s domed Gould Library. In 1973, in order to offset financial difficulties, NYU sold the land to City University of New York (‘CUNY’). Today, the Bronx Community College, which was founded in 1957 and joined CUNY in 1961, is located within the historic campus.
The City acquired this parcel of land by condemnation on December 23, 1893, and transferred it to Parks on April 20, 1897. Commissioner Henry J. Stern named the park Featherbed Triangle on June 17, 1987. The triangle is framed with benches that surround mature trees and a green.