On May 4, 1985, Mayor Edward I. Koch dedicated this plaza in honor of the 250,000 men and women of New York City who served in the United States armed forces from 1964 to 1975, especially those 1,741 who died fighting the Vietnam War. On November 9, 2001 Mayor Giuliani rededicated the extensively redesigned plaza.
This plaza consists of two parcels of land, each with a distinct origin and history of uses. The City of New York acquired the northern section of this plaza in 1686 and 1730 by virtue of the Dongan and Montgomerie Charters, which assigned all unused or excess properties to the City. At that time, the remainder of the property was in the East River and was known as Coenties Slip. When the Commissioners’ Plan of 1811 laid out Manhattan’s grid, the island contained hundreds of piers, but as the City’s population grew, the waterfront was filled in to make more land.