This triangle and the bordering street honor patriot and soldier Major General William Heath (1737-1814) and commemorate New York’s important role in the American Revolution (1776-1783).
Major General Heath of Massachusetts appears in many accounts of battles fought during the Revolutionary War. He led the militia during attacks at the Battles of Lexington and Concord, commanded a division of troops under George Washington (1732-1799) at the Battles of Long Island, Harlem Heights, and White Plains, and took over command of Hudson River troops after Benedict Arnold (1741-1801) betrayed his countrymen and fled into the hands of the British. Heath was also a central figure in the battle that took place nearby at Fort Independence in January of 1777. Having won a moral victory at the Battle of White Plains several weeks before, the American forces under General Heath set their sights on retaking the fortifications around this site from the Tories. After an exchange of cannon fire, the Americans were forced to retreat. Fort Independence remained in British hands for another three years.
After the war, Heath returned to Massachusetts where he concentrated on writing his memoirs while serving as a Norfolk County Probate Court judge. His gravestone reads that he “prepared his countrymen for the conflict by his pen and by his personal influence,” that he “issued the first general orders of the revolution,” and that he was “the trusted friend of Washington.”
Heath Avenue runs north to south in the Kingsbridge and University Heights sections of the Bronx. It forms Heath Triangle where it joins with 192nd and Bailey Avenue. The City acquired the property in 1902 and transferred it to Parks jurisdiction the following year. The triangle includes bluestone curbing, a lawn area, and shade trees enclosed by a single strand wire fence, while eight benches offer local residents an attractive place to rest. Among the varieties of trees on the triangle are four black locusts (Robinia pseudoacacia), two honey locusts (Gleditsia triacanthos), and a red oak (Quercus rubra). Greenstreets, a city-wide program initiated in 1986 and revived in 1994 to convert traffic islands into green spaces, has planted sweet spire (Quercius borealis) and rose of sharon (Hibiscus syriacus).