What was here before?
This area was once home to the Lenape. The landscape remained rural until the mid-19th century. As more people moved from more crowded parts of New York City, towns were incorporated to accommodate the increase in population.
How did this site become a park?
Dr. and Mrs. Louis A. Dreyfus donated the park’s original 1.924 acres to the City in 1920. Dr. Dreyfus discovered a process for making a chewing gum base in 1909 and formed the L.A. Dreyfus Company in Clifton, Staten Island until it expanded and relocated to Edison, New Jersey. His wife Mrs. Berta Dreyfus was a philanthropist who donated to various local hospitals, colleges, civic groups, and charities.
In 1981, there was a proposal to construct a twenty-five-story condominium on the area adjacent to the land that the Dreyfus family had donated to the city. The Silver Lake Civic League, the Silver Lake Civic Association, the Grymes Hill Civic Association, the Preservation League, the Trust for Public Land, and other community groups worked together to plan and preserve this oasis and commemorative grounds. The civic groups labored to raise the funds necessary for NYC Parks to purchase the 1.1-acre addition of wooded hillside, which was secured in 1985.
Who is this park named for?
Hero Park honors the 144 Staten Island soldiers who died in World War I. Large evergreen trees, dedicated to each veteran, decorate the park. Plaques with each soldier’s name once adorned Sugar Loaf Rock, in addition to a tablet that once explained the dedications. The tablet proclaimed: “This Granite Boulder Left Here During the Glacial Period Has Been Known for Generations as SUGAR LOAF ROCK and Marks the Boyhood Playground of the Men Whose Gallant Deeds it Now Commemorates.” After plaques began disappearing in the 1970s, NYC Parks removed the remaining markers to avoid further vandalism. In 2006, there was a restoration of the park that recreated the long-missing dedication plaques set in the boulder. The park and the adjoining road, Victory Boulevard, is a tribute to the local soldiers and the allied victory.