This triangle, bounded by East Fordham Road, Creston Avenue, and East 190th Street, remained nameless until December 17, 1929, when the Board of Alderman named it Maurice Muller Park for a local civic leader and philanthropist who had recently passed away. Muller, who died in August 1929, was a member of the Bronx Lions Club and is famous for opening the first department store in the Bronx. This property was renamed Muller Park on June 18, 1987, and finally Muller Triangle on October 28, 1996.
The park’s several ginkgo trees have earned the park the nickname Ginkgo Square. Found mostly in Asia and known for its distinctive fan-shaped leaf, the ginkgo flourished during the Jurassic period 190 to 140 million years ago. Today, ginkgos are used in the treatment of tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo, Alzheimer’s disease, and circulation-related disorders.
The site was acquired for street purposes by condemnation on December 24, 1897, during the year Mayor William L. Strong (1827-1900) created the Small Parks Advisory Committee to advise on acquisition of small parks and playgrounds in crowded tenement districts around New York City. Strong is famous for making millions as a banker and merchant before heading into public office. Elected mayor in 1895, Strong’s choice for police commissioner was Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), who became the nation’s 26th president in 1901.
The historic neighborhood of Fordham lies in the northwestern Bronx. During the 17th century, a few houses stood near what is now the intersection of Bailey Avenue and Kingsbridge Road, and a nearby ford (shallow wading area ideal for crossing rivers), at the Harlem River was the only direct crossing to the Bronx from Manhattan. In 1671, Governor Frances Lovelace (1621-1675) granted 3900 acres of the land to Jon Archer, a Dutch settler, who named it Fordham Manor after the Saxon words meaning “houses by the ford.” In 1693, the first bridge from the Bronx to Manhattan, the King’s Bridge, opened a short distance from the ford.
During the American Revolution, the area was the site of many battles between the British and the Americans. In the mid-19th century, a railroad line was extended into the area. St. John’s College, which later became Fordham University, was built, and the renowned writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849) moved to the area. In 1913, the Poe Cottage (c. 1812) was moved to its present location in Poe Park, where the Bronx County Historical Society operates it as a museum. The neighborhood grew tremendously after rapid transit was extended from Manhattan in the early 20th century.
In 1999, Muller Triangle became 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. Featuring benches, paving stones, cobblestone curbs, trees, shrubs, and wood chips, Muller Triangle is a soothing oasis in the midst of several major thoroughfares.