This oval oasis honors the memory of patrolman John Justin Fraser (1897?-1934), whose life was cut short by a tragic act of violence.
Fraser was born in Brooklyn and at the time of his death resided at 782 East 32nd Street in Marine Park. He served in the military as a Private First Class-Battery D, in the 59th Field Artillery C.A.C. of the American Expeditionary Force. Fraser was appointed to the Police Department on January 5, 1927, and proved himself to be an outstanding patrolman.
On September 26, 1934, while in civilian clothes outside a millinery shop at 1163 Flatbush Avenue, Fraser became suspicious of three men he witnessed entering an automobile accessories store directly across the street. He entered the store and sensing fear among the employees, announced that he was a police officer and reached for his revolver. One of the three men he had trailed turned and fired a gun directly into his abdomen, and ran from the premises. Though mortally wounded, Fraser grappled with the remaining two bandits, and then feeling himself growing weaker, handed his revolver to the store clerk and instructed him to keep the perpetrators covered. The gunman was later apprehended and all three charged with murder.
As he lay dying, with his wife Helen at his side, Fraser dictated a report of the hold-up and shooting. He expired as a result of his wounds on September 28, 1934. He and his wife had no children. On June 12, 1935, Fraser was honored with a posthumous medal for bravery in a ceremony at City Hall Plaza, presided over by Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, Police Commissioner Lewis J. Valentine, and Fire Chief and Commissioner John J. McElliogott. Seven years after his death, the property at Kings Highway and Avenue M was named in memory of Fraser by a resolution of the City Council. A bronze memorial tablet commissioned by the Greater New York Police Post 1999 and the Veterans of Foreign Wars was installed at that time. Fraser’s name is also inscribed in the honor roll of the New York City Police Memorial unveiled in Battery Park City, Manhattan on October 20, 1997.
In 1922, as part of improvements to Kings Highway, this large traffic island was vested to the City, and first improved under the Brooklyn Borough President Edward Riegelmann in 1930. Since 1938 Parks has maintained the property.
In April 2007, in a $740,000 project funded jointly by Council Member Lewis A. Fidler and Assembly Member Helene E. Weinstein, Fraser Square was transformed from a traffic circle to a lush passive garden. Parks landscape architect Willem DeRonde worked with the community to design an improved urban space for repose and small gatherings. The design includes dusty-mauve colored sidewalks and pathways that lead to a circular plaza area with decorative pavers and a flagpole. There are small sitting alcoves with World’s Fair style wood and steel benches, cast iron light poles, and a new drinking fountain.
Fraser Square’s new trees and shrubs include Tulip Trees, Pyramidal European Hornbeams, Ginkgos, Pines, Spreading Yews, Eastern Redbuds, Spirea, Forsythia, Rose of Sharons, Crape Myrtles, and Viburnums. There are also a variety of ground covers and colorful perennials including Autumn Joy, Purple and White Cone Flowers, Pink and White Summer Phlox, Black Eyed Susan, and Blue Fescue.