Garlinge Memorial Park on Grand Avenue and 72 Place is dedicated to those from Maspeth who lost their lives in the First World War (1914-18). Private Walter A. Garlinge was the first Maspeth resident to die and there are 23 other names inscribed. The monument was designed by Paul C. Hunder and was erected in 1931. Interestingly, Garlinge’s name on the monument is correct however the Parks Department calls it “Garlinger Triangle.” Newtown Historical Society President Christina Wilkinson requested years ago that the error be corrected.
The original park had a circular shape with benches surrounding the monument. In the late 1960’s the park took on the shape of a triangle for traffic safety issues. When the project was completed locals living nearby prevented the city from installing benches thinking it would discourage the teenagers who would gather there at night and disturb the neighbors. It didn’t, I know, I was one of them.
Late in the 1970’s my wife and daughter built fences and planted flowers around the three half dead trees that were there and it was then we realized this park needed a makeover. This area was then where the annual Maspeth Memorial Parade would start and it would be the perfect place where neighbors and shoppers could sit and rest.
After convincing some skeptical neighbors, I then took my idea to groups like Maspeth Town Hall, American Legion, Maspeth Civic Association and the Community Planning Board and they all supported the idea. I submitted a design to the NYC Parks Department and after a few years of not getting the project on the budget it was finally completed. The city planted all new trees and benches but not the bollards we had requested that would prevent out of control cars from coming onto the triangle as had occurred in the past.
Finally about 10 years ago the Park Department gave the park a makeover through the Greenstreets Program. They added flowerbeds, fencing and bollards. A community improvement project on Grand Avenue replaced the aluminum streetlights with older style streetlights and a vintage street clock was installed in the park.
What we have today is a place where neighbors can safely rest and talk in the shade of a tree on busy Grand Avenue. The park is now a fitting place for a memorial for those who died fighting to keep our nation safe and secure.