Rita Ley Triangle

Oneida Triangle

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

Neighbor to 1,146.43 acre Van Cortlandt Park, Oneida Triangle is bounded by East 238th Street, Van Cortlandt Park East, and Oneida Avenue. This parkland takes its name from Oneida Avenue and is dedicated to the men of Woodlawn Heights who served in World War I.

Fighting took place here during the Revolutionary War, when Oneida Avenue was known as Devoe’s Lane. It was also once known as 4th Street. The name was changed to Oneida Avenue in 1896. The Oneida tribe has no connection with New York City. Most likely the street was named for the Oneida, a vessel commanded by Admiral Farragut (1801-1870) during the Civil War in his capture of New Orleans. Farragut is buried in nearby Woodlawn Cemetery. Legend has it that a resident of this area had also served on the Oneida.

The City of New York purchased this land in 1924 and assigned it to Parks to create a memorial to residents of Woodlawn Heights who had served in the United States Army or Navy during World War I. On July 4, 1925, the Woodlawn Heights Taxpayers and Community Association dedicated the monument, which is six feet square and thirteen feet high, and holds a sculpture of an eagle atop a sphere. Four bronze plaques bearing the names of the men who served hang on the sides of the monument. Originally, a field gun was at the southern tip of the triangle, but during World War II it was melted down to make new weapons.

This parkland was originally called Woodlawn Memorial Park. As a neighborhood, Woodlawn, named for the estate owned by E. H. Ludlow in the 1860s, as well as for the cemetery that originally belonged to the estate, has always been an enclave for Irish immigrants. The first record dates from 1642, when the Dutch West India Company brought approximately 80 men to fight the Weckguasgeek Indians, who had attacked Dutch plantations. From the 1880s through the 1930s, this neighborhood was nicknamed Irishtown because of its large ethnic population. Residents lived in modest homes and worked at the Croton Aqueduct or at Woodlawn Cemetery.

Oneida Triangle is part of the Greenstreets program, a joint project of Parks and the New York City Department of Transportation, which began in 1986 and was revived in 1994. Its goal is to convert paved street properties, such as triangles and malls, into green spaces. The greening of Oneida Triangle was completed in July 2000. Today the triangle contains a flagpole with a yardarm, London plane trees, Norway maples, Sycamore maples, and shrubs.

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