Captain O’Sullivan Plaza
Christopher J. O’Sullivan (1936-1965) was born and raised in Astoria, not far from this triangular plaza at Astoria Boulevard, 25th Avenue, and 88th Street. He attended Immaculate Conception School in Astoria, graduated from Xavier High School in Manhattan in 1954, and enrolled in the ROTC program at Fordham University. After receiving his B.A. in 1958, O’Sullivan was commissioned a second lieutenant and enlisted in a special service course to become an airborne ranger. He took a break from his rigorous training to marry his hometown sweetheart, Eleanor Scott, and they had two sons, Michael and Stevie.
After six months’ service in Thailand, O’Sullivan took a thirty-day observation tour in Vietnam. In 1964 he returned to Vietnam as a military adviser. In May of 1965, Captain O’Sullivan led his 300-man force in a counter attack against the Viet Cong. Without warning, 800 of the enemy surrounded his men. While helping to carry the wounded to places of safety, directing air strikes by radio, and making an urgent call for more ammunition, O’Sullivan was hit by shrapnel. He died on Memorial Day, May 30, 1965, at the age of twenty-eight.
O’Sullivan was honored with a solemn funeral procession along Ditmars Boulevard on June 9 and with a ceremony at Governors Island on August 11. On behalf of her husband, Mrs. Eleanor O’Sullivan accepted six medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. On November 27, 1967, Mayor John V. Lindsay signed the local law to name this plaza in memory of Captain O’Sullivan. Attending the ceremony were O’Sullivan’s father, William, and Jackson Heights Council Member Edward Sadowsky, who sponsored the law.
The City of New York acquired this triangular parcel as a public place in 1933. It is assigned to Transportation and planted and maintained by Parks under the Greenstreets program. Greenstreets was inaugurated in 1986 and reintroduced in 1994 to convert paved street properties, like triangles and malls, into green lawns. Funded through Parks & Recreation’s capital budget, Greenstreets plants trees and shrubs in the city’s barren street spaces. The assistance of volunteers keeps these areas clean and their plants healthy. The Jackson Heights Neighborhood Association has donated granite block to form tulip and daffodil beds on the plaza.