Judge Angelo Graci Triangle

Sutter Green

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This parkland is located on Sutter Avenue, a roadway named in honor of former Brooklyn Democratic Leader Peter D. Sutter. As a member of the Democratic Party, Sutter was part of an organization that dominated New York politics for much of the 19th and 20th centuries. The party came into existence in the early 19th century after the fall of the Federalist Party from national prominence. The Democrats replaced the Federalists as the main rival of the Jeffersonian Republicans in national politics and helped form the two party system in the United States. The Democratic Party in both New York City and State played an important role in the development of the national party, in part through the efforts of New York Governor and eighth President Martin Van Buren (1782-1862).

The Democratic Party in New York, however, is most commonly associated with Tammany Hall, a democratic institution founded in 1788 as the Society of St. Tammany. Tammany Hall began as an exclusive club whose membership consisted mostly of craftsmen who met in a building on Spruce Street in Manhattan from 1798 to 1812 and then another hall on Nassau and Frankfort Streets in the same borough from 1812 to 1868. Initially the organization was only somewhat involved in politics and was fairly liberal for its time, supporting causes such as universal male suffrage.

In the 1820s and 1830s, however, Tammany Hall expanded its political involvement and grew into one of the nation’s most famous political machines. The organization gained supporters though its relationship with recent immigrants, whose votes were obtained after Democratic workers helped them find jobs and quickly obtain citizenship. The organization gained further support amongst its constituency by fighting those who supported the anti-Catholic and nativist movements that were gaining popularity at the time. The group’s political influence grew under the leadership of Charles F. Murray (1858-1924), who ran Tammany Hall from 1902 to 1924 and the organization became famous for launching the careers of Mayor Fernando Wood (1812-1881) and William M. “Boss” Tweed (1823-1878). Tammany Hall moved to a new home on 14th Street and 3rd Avenue in Manhattan in 1868, a structure that would host the Democratic National Convention later that year.

The organization’s influence lasted until the early 1930s, when an attempt by Tammany officials to block Franklin D. Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) presidential nomination left the group estranged from the national party at a time when it was being investigated for widespread corruption. In 1932, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia (1882-1947) was elected major of New York on an anti-Tammany Hall coalition, and a Democrat was not elected mayor for another 12 years, marking the end of Tammany Hall’s domination of New York City politics.

When the Democratic Party regained power in 1945, some of its most prominent members, such as Adam Clayton Powell Jr. (1865-1953) and J. Raymond Jones (1899-1991), were African-American. This marked a change from the Tammany Hall era, when the party was predominantly Irish. Democratic Mayor Edward I. Koch (b.1924) came to define the party in New York from his election in 1977 until he was defeated in the 1992 mayoral election by Democrat David M. Dinkins (b.1927).

The street that lends this park’s its name was named in honor of Peter D. Sutter on April 11, 1887, and Sutter Green was acquired by the City on September 28, 1959 and immediately became parkland. Commissioner Stern gave the park its current name on November 30, 1998. Today, the park adds greenery to Sutter Avenue, North Conduit Avenue, and 78th Street, and serves as a place for local residents to garden.

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