This square honors Archie C. Ketchum (1893-1920), a local Brooklyn native who worked in real estate with his father, volunteered for World War I, and served on the Board of Aldermen. Ketchum was raised on Kings Highway and West Eighth Street. He entered the real estate business with his father, Melvin Ketchum, but volunteered for service when the United States joined in World War I. A member of the 104th Field Artillery, Ketchum fell victim to gas warfare. Unable to return to duty, Ketchum was discharged and returned to his father’s Brooklyn real estate brokerage. In 1919, Ketchum was elected to the Board of Alderman (predecessor of the City Council), representing the Sixteenth Assembly District of Brooklyn, but only attended a few meetings before suffering a severe case of influenza, which led to emphysema. After suffering for three months, he died on April 18, 1920.
The 1915 planning maps for the expansion of Kings Highway indicated the formation of this square bordered by Kings Highway, West Ninth Street, Quentin Road, and West Tenth. The widening was complete and the city acquired the resulting property in 1923. On April 27, 1928, the Board of Alderman named it in honor of Archie Ketchum.
A 1935 Parks report described the site as “sodded and enclosed by iron picket fence.” In addition, the square included “two trees, one flagpole, and one field gun; fully curbed, sidewalks with planting strip along curb.” Although the field gun was removed during World War II to be remanufactured into new weapons, this site appears today much as it did 66 years ago.
Archie Ketchum Square, a property of the Department of Transportation, is a Greenstreets site. Greenstreets is a joint project of Parks and the New York City Department of Transportation begun in 1986 and revived in 1994. Its goal is to convert paved street properties, such as triangles and malls, into green spaces.
In 2000, Mayor Giuliani allocated $31,000 for improvements to the square that included planting a Littleleaf Linden Tilia cordata) and a Crabapple tree (Malus), as well as ground cover of San Jose Juniper (Juniperus scopulorum).