Saturday, June 13, 2009
This is a little park that I cut through before the alley.
Now 200 years old, Duane Park is the second oldest public park in New York City. Since 1797, when it was purchased by the city, the park has been redesigned several times. Until 1940, these designs all provided ample greenery. Then the planting area was greatly reduced.
Duane Park was once part of a 62-acre farm outside the limits of the New Amsterdam Settlement. The property was granted to Roeloff and Annetje Jans by Governor Wouter Van Twiller in 1636 and Roeloff Jans was contracted by the West India Company to farm the plot. After Roeloff's death in 1637, Annetje (shown at left) married Everardus Bogardus, the second minister of the Dutch Church of New Amsterdam. The farm was renamed Dominie's Bouwerie. In 1664 the English took over New Amsterdam, and in 1670 Governor Francis Lovelace acquired the farm. Although the Dutch retook New Amsterdam three years later, Jan's heirs did not lay claim to the farm. However, when the English returned in 1674, the Duke of York (who later became King James II) confiscated Lovelace's farm. In 1705, the royal family granted the farm to Trinity Church and it became known as the Trinity's Lower Farm. When Duane Street was laid out in 1794 (it was named after James Duane, a former mayor and the nation's first federal judge) it isolated a triangle of land too small to build on. Three years later the city purchased this remnant of Trinity's Lower Farm to make a park.