What was here before?
This area of the Bronx is known as Fordham Manor, which was one of four manors established through feudal grants that allowed the landowner the right to build mills and institute a court system to try their tenants. It was mostly rural until the turn of the century when the construction of trolley lines and elevated railways brought the area within commuting distance of Manhattan.
How did this site become a park?
The City acquired this site for street purposes on November 1, 1913. The park was constructed through the Works Progress Administration program and was opened and dedicated to John Fraser Bryan in 1933. This memorial park has a flagstaff and seating area.
Who is this park named for?
This park honors Bronx veteran John Fraser Bryan (1885-1918), a member of the United States’ Allied Expeditionary Force (A.E.F.).
Bryan was an athlete who played basketball in the area and organized the first Fordham Tennis Club. He was also secretary and treasurer of the nearby St. James Sunday School and a member of the church’s vestry.
Bryan entered the service in 1913 during the Mexican Border War as a member of the Old 7th in Company E. At the end of his enlistment period, he re-enlisted as World War I (1914-1918) was raging. He was stationed in Spartanburg where he graduated from Officer’s School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant. Bryan was sent to France as a part of Company L, 102nd Infantry, 28th Division.
The Meuse-Argonne offensive, named for the Argonne Forest and the Meuse River where the trench lines were drawn across southern France, began on September 26, 1918. During the offensive, Bryan was severely wounded and captured by the Germans. He died of his wounds in a German Field hospital on October 31, 1918. The offensive continued successfully forward until the Central Powers surrendered, and the signing of the Armistice ended the conflict on November 11, 1918. Of the 116,000 American soldiers who perished in the war, 26,777 were lost in this action.
Bryan was posthumously awarded the Prisoner of War Medal, Purple Heart, and World War I Victory Medal. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery and American Legion Post 19 was named in his honor.