On January 1, 1898, the City of Greater New York was created. New York City consisted of Bronx County, Kings tappen_park_1_400County, New York County, Queens County, and Richmond County. At the time, there were just three public parks located in Richmond County, or Staten Island. These were Port Richmond Park, Washington Square Park, and Westerleigh Park. During the late eighteenth century, Staten Island consisted of four towns: Castleton, Northfield, Southfield, and Westfield.  By the middle of the nineteenth century, portions of both Castleton and Southfield were merged to create Middletown.  Throughout the years, these towns were comprised of smaller villages.  At first, the village known as Stapleton was located in the town of Southfield.  By the time Middletown was created, it was added to that town.

For many years prior to the creation of the village of Stapleton, the land was owned by the prominent Vanderbilt family.  By the nineteenth century, it was sold and transformed into a village. By 1867, a small parcel of land was purchased by the town of Stapleton to be used fortappen_park_2_400 the public. At the time of consolidation, the land was acquired by the City of New York, who transformed it into a park: Washington Square Park.

Due to its location, Washington Square Park was interchangeably known as Stapleton Park. By July of 1934, however, the name was legally changed to Tappen Park. This new name was given to honor a World War I veteran, James J. Tappen. Tappen lived from 1891 until 1918 and was a resident of Stapleton While serving for the United States Army in France, he was killed on September 29, 1918. He was one of approximately 117,000 Americans who died during the Battle of Argonne, which began September 16 and ended November 11 of that same year.

Tappen Park may be less than two acres in size, but it contains a few objects which serve as memorials. The first of which is an evergreen tree. This 35-foot tree was moved from the Hoffman estate. The most prominent tappen_park_3jpg_400member of the Hoffman family was John T. Hoffman, who served as Governor of New York between 1869 and 1872, and then as Mayor of New York City from 1866 to 1868. The relatively close Hoffman Island was named for him. The evergreen tree, which we are currently more interested in, has been decorated and lit up for Christmas each year since 1937.  However, the tree that had been removed from the Hoffman estate withered away and was replaced by a blue spruce tree.  Today, as in the past, the tree is known as the James J. Tappen Post Christmas Tree and it is still lit every year.

The second memorial tree is a London plane tree, which has been growing in the park since November of 1985. This tree was planted to honor Robert Dunne. Robert Dunne was a respected member of the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. He worked with the agency for thirty-five years and eventually became the Director of Recreation for the department.tappen_park_4_400

Aside from the commemorative trees within the park, there is also a comfort station and a beautiful water fountain. The comfort station was designed in the Romanesque style of architecture. Inside is a glorious gazebo, which has benches and is lighted by wrought iron lanterns.

Posted by Anthony Licciardello on


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