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O'Brien Oval

O’Brien Oval

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

Captain Thomas A. O’Brien was born in 1884 and grew up at 280 Burnside Avenue, just a few blocks away. O’Brien was killed in World War I on October 12, 1918, less than a month before Armistice and the end of the war. On December 1, 1924, the Board of Alderman named this park “to pay tribute to the memory of one who made the supreme sacrifice in the World War”.

O’Brien Oval is located in the historic central Bronx neighborhood of Tremont. This area was farmland when the New York and Harlem Railroad opened a station in 1841. The station soon became the center of the village, which was named Tremont in the 1850s by postmaster Hiram Tarbox. Tremont refers to the presence of three major hills in the area, or three mounts: Claremont, Mount Eden, and Mount Hope; these hills also give their names to three of the many small neighborhoods that comprise the Tremont area.

On March 10, 1896, the City of New York acquired the land that is now O’Brien Oval for a street by condemnation. Although the Department of Highways never officially conveyed jurisdiction over the property to Parks, Parks constructed this park to serve as a traffic median at the intersection of East 176th Street, and Valentine, Webster, Carter, and East Tremont Avenues. Upon opening, the park consisted of a pair of small triangles characterized by grass lawns with trees and shrubs enclosed with pipe rail fencing, concrete benches, a steel flagpole and a drinking fountain.

Located at a heavily trafficked intersection and major bus transfer point, this hillside park includes enormous London planetrees, bushes, grass, benches, a flagpole with yardarm that flies the American, City of New York and Parks flags, and three surrounding Greenstreets sites. In 1999, Councilman Jose Rivera funded a $40,326 rehabilitation of O’Brien Oval, renovating the fences and pavements and installing new benches.

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