Trinity Park, on Gold Street between Sands and Nassau in downtown Brooklyn, is named in honor of the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity, also known as the Trinitarian Sisters. Under the auspices of the Catholic Settlement Association of Brooklyn at the Dr. White Community Center, located at 200 Gold Street, these nuns have worked to improve the lives of people in this neighborhood since 1908.
This park is located near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, or BQE, which was constructed under the direction of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses between 1946 and 1964 at a cost of $137 million. Built to relieve congestion on local streets and to aid industry and business by shortening transportation time between the boroughs, the six-lane, 11.7-mile-long BQE received Federal, state and city funds. After repeated reconstruction projects in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, the BQE will receive a $240-million, 4-year rehabilitation from the New York State Department of Transportation, scheduled to be completed in 2004. Trinity Park sits directly under an underpass leading to the Manhattan Bridge, a two-level suspension bridge spanning the East River between Canal Street in Manhattan and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.
Trinity Park lies in Farragut, a 3,000-person neighborhood named for Admiral David G. Farragut (1801-1870). His distinguished service in the U.S. Navy during the Civil War made him a hero so cherished by the people of New York City that they gave him $50,000 at the end of the war. Inhabited originally by the Delaware Indians, this area attracted Dutch farmers in the seventeenth century. Although today Farragut is a peaceful community populated by many artists, it was long ago known for the many temptations it offered the wayward sailor, earning Sands Street its former nickname of Hell’s Half Acre. Known also as the Barbary Coast in the nineteenth century, Sands Street was filled with taverns, brothels and gambling houses. Gold Street’s history is no less exciting. Legend has it that it is was named not only for the gold coins that the first developers of the area found, but also for Captain Kidd’s buried treasure, which lies undiscovered to this day.
Trinity Park was acquired by condemnation in 1947, and local law named it in 1975. A proclamation, mounted on a small triangle on the ground near the park’s main entrance, reads, “Proclaimed by Mayor Abraham Beame and the Bridge Plaza ‘Action 12’ Block Association in recognition of the Trinitarian Sisters since 1918, who continue to live in and serve in this neighborhood among a changing ethnic population.” Trinity Park, a sitting area with chess and checker tables, is lined with London Plane trees, a species known for its ability to survive in harsh urban environments, including dry soil and polluted air. Due to the enduring popularity of the London Plane, Parks uses the silhouette of its leaf as its official insignia.