Fort Hamilton Triangle
Fort Hamilton Plaza
Bounded by Fourth and Fifth Avenues and 94th Street, Fort Hamilton Plaza is dedicated to the local soldiers killed in World War I. The park takes its name from nearby Fort Hamilton, one the oldest continuously garrisoned federal military posts. Named after Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804), the distinguished colonial statesman and first Secretary of the Treasury, the base was erected between 1825 and 1831. During the Civil War (1861-1865), Fort Hamilton served as a training ground for volunteer New York State regiments. It later functioned as an embarkation and separation center during both World Wars and as the Military Entrance and Processing Station for New York City in the mid-1990s. Today over 200 Army Reserve and National Guard units are supported at Fort Hamilton.
In 1909, the City of New York acquired this land. Parks, however, did not assume jurisdiction over the property until it was transferred seven years later. In 1921, the Board of Aldermen voted to name the park Fort Hamilton Memorial Park.
Since 1936, the park has gone through two other name changes. In 1986, Parks unofficially renamed the site, Pigeon Park, in recognition of the large number of pigeons that the park attracts. Pigeons were first introduced to the New World from Europe during the 1600s, and were originally raised for food. Pigeon racing was a popular pastime in New York City from the 1930s to the 1950s. When World War II broke out, five pigeons were “drafted” from every private coop to breed homing pigeons for the U.S. Army. Some scientists estimate that today New York City is home to more than seven million pigeons.
In 1998, Commissioner Stern changed the park's name to Fort Hamilton Plaza. This name change came after an extensive $445,000 renovation funded by former City Council Member Sal F. Albanese. The renovation installed new benches, pavement and curbs, added trees, flower beds and topsoil, lowered a seven foot high fence to four feet, and restored the triangle's World War Memorial Monument and flagpole. In 1917, this twenty-foot monument was erected in the center of the park. The monument consists of a granite shaft with iron ornaments. The names of those soldiers who trained at Fort Hamilton and served or passed away during World War I are inscribed on the granite shaft. At the northernmost tip of the triangle, a flagpole with a yardarm accompanies the monument. Flying from it is the flag of the United States, accompanied by the flags of the City of New York and Parks and Recreation.