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Young Park

Young Park

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

This park, located at the intersection of East 180th Street, Van Nest and East Tremont Avenues, was among many small public properties developed to honor the fallen soldiers of World War I. Little is known about James Young, who lived on Liberty and Sherman Streets in Morris Park, before enlisting in the Navy upon United States entry into World War I.

The United States tried to stay neutral at the start of World War I (1914-1918). However, anti-German sentiment escalated when a German U-boat (submarine) sank the Lusitania, a British ship carrying American passengers. Because of this J.P. Morgan (1837-1913) and other large financial groups began offering loans to the Allies and blocking German exchange, effectively ending their neutrality. Germany announced in February 1917 that it would no longer respect the neutrality of the seas and, in an effort to gain naval superiority over the British, instructed U-boat commanders to attack any Allied vessel. President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) protested this action and within three weeks the U.S. formally declared war on the Central Powers, Germany and Austria-Hungary.

James Young was designated as Chief Gunners Mate on a naval boat, which and was assigned to thwart attacks by German U-Boats. By 1917, the U-boats were sinking nearly 875,000 tons of British supplies every month, a pace which would have forced the British to surrender by the end of the year. The combined British and American naval forces were able to inflict a great deal of damage on the German submarines through the use of destroyers and hydroplane bombers. After several months at sea, Young was killed in action on October 30, 1917.

The influx of American soldiers and supplies in Europe threw the balance of power to the Allies, allowing them to push back the German Western Front. On November 9th, the German navy mutinied and, on November 11th, the war’s participating countries signed an armistice ending the war. A year later, President Wilson made Armistice Day a national holiday. In 1954 Armistice Day was re-named Veterans Day and the holiday’s scope was widened to honor all those who fought in American wars.

Young Park is located at the intersection of East 180th Street, Van Nest, and East Tremont Avenues. East 180th Street was formerly two separate roads called Talmadge Street and Samuel Street. Van Nest Avenue is named for the powerful Van Nest family that first came to New York in 1647. Reynier Van Nest (1771-1859) owned a saddlery, and his son Abraham (1810-1889) directed the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroads. Their descendents owned the Van Nest Land and Improvement Company, which was responsible for laying out this neighborhood. East Tremont Avenue is named for the three major hills that encircle the Morrisania neighborhood: Mount Eden, Mount Fairmont, and Mount Hope.

The park property was acquired as a street in 1909, and put under the jurisdiction of the Bronx Department of Parks in 1922. On October 24, 1933 the site was named for James A. Young. In 2000, Council Member Lucy Cruz funded a $51,000 repair of the triangle’s sidewalk. Today, this traffic triangle, boasts several park benches and young Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadesis) trees.

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