As you may well know, the Geographic South Pole is the southernmost point on Earth, lying on the continent of Antarctica. Up until the 1800s, Antarctica was only a myth. During the year of 1820, many had claimed to have actually seen this fabled continent. The first humans to set foot on the continent did so the following year. By the turn of the century, explorers began to search for the South Pole. The first attempt was made in 1902, but the party had only reached 82°16' S.  In 1909, that same party set out once again, but they were roughly two degrees off.  Two years later, on December 14, Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen became the first person to reach 90° S, the South Pole.

While people were debating whether or not Antarctica was real, other expeditions were being led in hopes of reaching the Geographic North Pole, 90° N. The first expedition was led in 1827, butpark_2_400 the party was roughly eight degrees off. Many more attempts continued throughout the rest of the century, but to no avail.  By 1909, a party had claimed that they had reached the North Pole, but there was no evidence to support this.  There had been much controversy as to whether or not this party, led by Robert Peary, had actually reached the North Pole. Finally in 1926, another party had set out to reach the North Pole.  On May 12 of that year, the party had indeed reached it-and they had proof. This party was led by Roald Amundsen, the same person who had discovered the South Pole.

While Roald Amundsen was, indeed, the first person to discover the South Pole, he may or may not have been the first to reach the North Pole. Nevertheless, he was the first person to reach both Poles. To prove that his party had actually reached the North Pole, Amundsen travelled once again to the South Pole with several scientists on May 24, 1928. The following day, on the park3_400return trip, the flight had crashed and many members of the crew had been lost. On June 6 of that year, a rescue mission began in an attempt to find survivors of the prior month's crash.  On June 18, however, the plane, along with Roald Amundsen, had disappeared.

Following the American Revolutionary War, the population of Staten Island began to grow steadily.  This population was made up of a diversity of immigrants. By the early part of the twentieth century, many of Staten Island's neighborhoods had already been created. At that time, the neighborhood of Oakwood consisted largely of Norwegians. In 1928, the same year Captain Roald Amundsen had disappeared, an area of roughly one acre of land was acquired by the City of New York to be converted into a park.  On July 9, 1929, this area of land became known as Amundsen Circle.

Today, Amundsen Park is officially known as Captain Roald Amundsen Plaza. In 1933, the Norsemen Glee Club of Staten Island and the Norwegian Singing Society of Brooklyn erected a plaque within the park to honor Captain Roald Amundsen.  Due to its size, there are no recreational facilities located within the park.  However, there is a four-and-a-half mile trail located inside the circle, which is bounded by Amboy Road, Clarke Avenue, and Savoy Street.  This trail has been named Amundsen Trail. 

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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