Samuel Goldberg Triangle

Samuel Goldberg Triangle

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

This park honors dedicated Bensonhurst community activist, Samuel Goldberg (1911-1985). Though Goldberg’s poor eyesight prevented him from joining the Armed Forces during World War II (1941-1945), he served as the zone commander of the Brooklyn Civil Defense Forces and was a founding member of a local community organization, the Marlboro Civic League.

World War I (1914-1918) for New Yorkers consisted primarily of surreal images depicting men huddled in muddy trenches and bodies strewn across smoky battlefields a world away. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, may have brought World War II home to most Americans, but the loss of life in the sinking of dozens of shipping vessels off the New York coastline by Nazi submarines led to widespread fear of shelling and foreign invasion for many New Yorkers. Adding to the sense of panic, an announcement made in 1942 over German radio vowed retribution for the Allied bombing of Berlin by threatening New York City.

Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia (1882-1947) believed that the City was the “world’s number one target,” and in 1941 he was named the unpaid head of the U.S. Office of Civilian Defense, a position he only held until 1942. After his tenure, the mayor appointed Grover A. Whalen (the driving force behind the World’s Fair of 1939-1940) to lead the Civilian Defense Volunteers Office. Approximately half the volunteers were assigned to “civilian protective groups,” which included aircraft spotters, air raid wardens, and auxiliary fire and policemen. The tense atmosphere of war was characterized by black-out drills every three months and air raid sirens that were sounded every Saturday at noon.

Other volunteer programs were designated as “community war services” involving activities like childcare, carpooling, nutrition education, and rationing. At the local level, the Civilian Defense system was organized by city blocks and headed by block leaders, such as Samuel Goldberg. In his unit, he rose to the position of zone commander and was later honored by Governor Averell Harriman for his dedicated service. In 1948, Goldberg served as the democratic captain of the 3rd Election District in the 16th Assembly District. As captain he coordinated the donation of food to families in need and helped the elderly to vote.

In addition to these charitable activities, he was the founding member of the Marlboro Civic League. Ensuring the upkeep of small public spaces was one of the organization’s many activities. After the City acquired this parkland in the 1930s, Goldberg worked to have it named for the league. A 1945 local law officially titled it “Marlboro Square,” however, after Samuel’s death on November 25, 1985, the triangle was renamed to honor the notable community member himself. He was survived by two daughters, Merle and Marsha Goldberg and his wife, Guise.

In March 2000, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani allocated $18,481 in funding for the addition of new pavement, benches, and plantings to this site, located at the intersection of 65th Street, Avenue O, and West Third Street. Some of the varieties of shrubbery and grass planted include Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), Oakleaf Hydrangea (Hydrandea quercifolia), and Inkberry (Ilex glabra).

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