Lt. Clinton L .Whiting Square

Lt. Clinton L. Whiting Square

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

What was here before?

Originally inhabited by the Canarsie, members of the Ditmars, Lott, Wyckoff, Suydam, and Snediker families settled in Woodhaven in the 18th century after emigrating from the Netherlands. After an 1821 law exempted Queens County from a state ban on horse racing, Woodhaven became known for its racetracks.

Around the same time, industrialist John R. Pitkin (1794-1874) founded the town of Woodville on land that was formerly farmland owned by Dutch settlers. He hoped to develop a city called East New York, which would rival Manhattan, but an economic downturn in 1837 forced Pitkin to abandon his plans and concentrate on the development of Woodville. Neighborhood residents voted in 1853 to change the area’s name to Woodhaven after learning there was already a Woodville in upstate New York. Industrial development took off in the mid-19th century as a variety of factories opened here, but the area became increasingly residential in the 20th century

How did this site become a square?

The City of New York acquired Lt. Clinton L. Whiting Square by condemnation in 1916. In 1997, the square’s hardscape surfaces were paved and repaired, and it was reconstructed again in 2021. This square is approximately one block long and consists of a small paved area with a row of mature trees that provide shade for pedestrians on 84th Street and a flagstaff at its north end.

After World War I a variety of cannons and military ordnance were placed at about 50 traffic islands around the city, including a cannon that was placed here. The cannon was removed during World War II and scrapped to support the war effort. 

Who is this square named for?

The park was named after World War I hero Lieutenant Clinton L. Whiting by a resolution of the Board of Aldermen on May 10, 1932. Whiting was a First Lieutenant in the 308th Infantry and was posthumously awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for Heroism in Action on August 4, 1919 for his performance on the battlefields of World War I. While on an advance through the Argonne Forest in France, Whiting led his men into a key position in a marsh covered by wire, grass, and stunted brush despite heavy enemy fire. During the battle, Whiting was seriously wounded by a machine gun bullet on September 28, 1918 and died from his wounds on October 23rd of that year.

Park Information

Directions to Lt. Clinton L .Whiting Square

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