John Vincent Daniels Jr. Square
Vincent Daniels Square
This square honors Vincent Daniels, Jr., a Woodside resident killed in action during World War I. He served as a Private 1st Class in the 102nd Field Signal Company and lost his life during the final days of the war in 1918. In 1933 the Board of Alderman named this site Vincent Daniels Square, “to pay tribute to a son of Queens County who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War.”
During New York's colonial period, Woodside was known as "suicide's paradise," as it was largely comprised of snake-infested swamps and wolf-ridden woodlands. The Dutch gave Father John Doughty, a colonist from Massachusetts, a charter for 13,000 acres in 1642, and thus began the region's settlement. During the mid-1800s, several wealthy men moved from Charleston, South Carolina to build mansions in the region, including John Kelly. Kelly's son John Andrew Kelly worked as a newspaper man and wrote a set of articles entitled "Letters from Woodside," romanticizing his view of the woods from his window. When developer Benjamin Hitchcock bought the Kelly estate in 1867 to develop a village, he favored the name Woodside over "suicide's paradise" for his new town.
Woodside saw a huge building boom in 1869, when Hitchcock divided the Kelly farm into lots, which he sold for between $100 and $300 each. He also built streets in the village, and his interest encouraged other builders to join in developing the area. Eventually, other large estates were sold and developed. The Long Island and the Flushing Rail Road companies merged and opened a station in Woodside in 1895. When the Queensboro Bridge opened in 1909, the population of Woodside rose to nearly six thousand people. Elevated train lines branched into the neighborhood and opened in 1917, causing the population to jump again. In the 1920s, the last tracts of undeveloped land disappeared. After World War II (1939-1945), many of the houses in Woodside were torn down to make way for apartment buildings.
In 1920 the City acquired this parcel of land and by 1924 Queens Borough President Maurice E. Connolly (1880-1935) had begun to develop it as a small park. In July 1934, Borough President George U. Harvey conveyed the land to Parks. A landscape plan from 1935 reveals that the site featured three walkways connecting at the center of the triangle with areas designated for benches, and a newsstand.
Vincent Daniels Square is bounded by Roosevelt and 43rd avenues, and 51st Street, and is characterized by a flagpole that stands on an upraised platform, a water fountain, walkways, benches, trees, and bushes. At the eastern apex of the triangle stands a bronze commemorative plaque buttressed by a granite platform. The memorial honors Private Daniels for sacrificing his life for his country and others around the world.
In 1983 Mayor Edward I. Koch sponsored renovations at Vincent Daniels Square. New curbs and fencing were installed, the flagpole was reset, and trees were planted.