Lt. Wm. Tighe Triangle

Lt. William Tighe Triangle (Ring Garden)

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

This park honors Lieutenant William Tighe (1887-1944), an Inwood community leader and a veteran of two world wars. Long before Tighe Triangle’s present incarnation, Native American pottery and a 13,000-year-old mammoth (mamut americanum) tusk were recovered near the garden in the late 1800s, which are now in the American Museum of Natural History.

The City acquired the land in 1927 as a part of the land purchase for the extension of Seaman Avenue from Dyckman Street to Riverside Drive, and the widening of the intersection of Riverside Drive and Dyckman Street. On January 1, 1938, the land was transferred to NYC Parks. Two years later it was given the formal name of Inwood Plaza by local law. In 1950, another local law renamed the triangle to honor the man who had cared for it and put up its Christmas tree each year, Lieutenant William Tighe.

Tighe was born in England on February 7, 1887, to parents of Irish descent, John Tighe and Mary Dixon. William eventually moved to Inwood and lived at 200 Dyckman Street, working as a clerk in various locales. Active in both World War I and World War II, Tighe was decorated several times. Between the two wars, he was an active member of the American Legion and the Catholic War Veterans, while working as the secretary of the Inwood Chamber of Commerce. During World War II, Tighe became incapacitated and was taken to the Veterans Hospital Base 81 on nearby Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx, where he died on September 27, 1944.

Lieutenant William Tighe Triangle is also known as Riverside Inwood Neighborhood Garden (RING). Formed in 1984, RING spent four years gardening at nearby 1815 Riverside Drive. This award-winning site was bulldozed in 1987 by the private owner. In 1988 and 1989, RING acquired the funds needed for a new garden. At the urging of RING members Maggie Clarke and Arthur Sherry, and Council Member Stanley E. Michels, NYC Parks decided to make the new RING garden a Greenstreets site, the second in Manhattan. The Greenstreets program, a joint project of NYC Parks and the Department of Transportation, was created to convert paved street properties into green spaces.

RING’s funds were used to buy railroad ties for raised beds and new plantings, and their volunteers created a retaining wall on the central oval from local schist rock. A blue dwarf spruce was planted on the Broadway end of the garden. Members of the garden decorate the tree each year, and light a wooden menorah.

The much-celebrated design is inspired by European ornamental gardens, and planted with hundreds of varieties of trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, groundcovers, and bulbs. In 2000, a renovation enlarged the garden and brought a drinking fountain to the garden. A wrought iron fence decorated with butterflies borders the garden. Further additions include concrete walls to hold in the soil, a performance plaza, and a tool shed.

RING volunteers enriched the plantings, designed and installed five underground watering systems, and enlarged water circulation system to include seven pools and a waterfall. These are powered by several additional solar photovoltaic collectors and batteries. The pond complex, with its large goldfish and koi, natural bog plantings, and floating plants, enhances the Garden’s ability to educate local schoolchildren and community members. Two compost bins are used to convert organic wastes into fertilizer for the garden. RING holds planting and harvesting festivals each year and a butterfly festival in July. The RING Garden is open to the public on Saturday mornings, several weekday evenings throughout the summer.

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