James J. Walker Park

Art & Culture | History

A Park Named for a Player Who was Also the Mayor

Jimmy Walker Park Firefighter memorial

About James J. Walker Park

 & why it made the Carpe City list

  • Jimmy Walker, the corrupt mayor of New York City from 1926 to 1932, loved drinking, carousing, and chasing showgirls, yet the public loved him. 
    • After his 1946 death, Hudson Park, near his house at 6 St. Luke’s Place, was renamed in his honor. 
  • James J. Walker Park was originally a cemetery for St. Johns Chapel, part of the famous Trinityparish.   
    • The burial ground was for middle and lower class parishioners.   
    • Edgar Allen Poe used to roam the small peaceful cemetery.   
  • In 1896, the city acquired the burial ground using Eminent Domain and allowed family members a short time to retrieve bodies.   
  • Fewer than 1,000 of the 10,000 bodies were retrieved.  The rest remain there today.  The only remnant of the cemetery is a marble sarcophagus honoring fallen firefighters from the 1800s. 
  • The park features one bocce ball court that is a supposed homage to the Italian heritage of the neighborhood. Another cool feature of the park is the old horsehead hitching posts near the playground.   

Carpe City Trivia

Jimmy Walker Park isn't the only burial ground turned park in New York City

There are several; Union Square, Bryant Park, Washington Square Park, and Madison Square Park are all built atop old burial sites.  

By: Lucie Levine and Cyd Sacks

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