Saratoga Square Park
Saratoga Square Park, the second largest park in historic Bedford-Stuyvesant, takes its name from Saratoga Avenue just to the east, which was itself named in 1835 for the Revolutionary War Battles of Saratoga, New York on September 19 and October 7, 1777.
The word Saratoga itself may be Iroquois or Mohawk in origin, perhaps meaning “springs from hillside.” Other possible meanings include “place of miraculous water in rock” and “beaver place.” Whatever its origins, Saratoga is a popular name used for parks and towns in New York State and throughout the country.
Prior to its acquisition as a park, this site, bounded by Saratoga and Howard Avenues and Halsey and Macon Streets, was the property of James C. Brower and his wife. It played host to visiting circuses until the City of Brooklyn purchased it in 1896 for $121,975. The park was soon graded and planted, and workers laid new paths and enclosed the area with an iron picket fence. A brick and wood frame shelter was erected in the park in 1903.
Standing in the center of the park is a bronze and pink granite memorial to the people of the neighborhood who gave their lives in World War I. The sculptor, J.S. Novelli, designed the bronze figure representing Columbia, a traditional American symbol of liberty whose origins date to the Revolutionary War. Columbia holds a frond of victory in her right hand and rests her left hand on a shield. Originally dedicated in 1921, the monument had two honor rolls bearing the names of 106 fallen soldiers from the neighborhood. Unfortunately, the plaques were stolen in 1974 and the bronze figure was vandalized in 2000.
With support of the community and funding from the City Council, the monument was restored in 2014, one hundred years after the start of World War I. The figure of Columbia was modeled using historical photographs, archival documents and recovered pieces from the vandalized bronze figure. New honor rolls were recreated bringing the names of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country, back to their neighborhood.