Saturday, May 20, 2017

MANHATTAN - Jackie Robinson Park (Formerly Colonial Park)

Lots of past violence and death in the vicinity of Jackie Robinson Park.  Here is but a smattering.

  • 24-year-old Rosa Raubenbuehler, a servant, was burned to death in the fire that destroyed the St. Nicholas Park Hotel on November 25, 1892.  The two-story frame hotel and dancing pavillion stood on the corner of Bradhurst Avenue and 155th Street.
  • Athelton Cornforth, former clergyman who had become a London stockbroker, living in Manhattan for a year under the assumed name of Arthur Hall, committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth under a tree in a lonely part of Colonial Park at Bradhurst Avenue and West 153rd Street.  It was discovered that he was in financial distress.  The Brooklyn Daily Eagle, July 20, 1910, page 1,  The New York Times, July 21, 1910, page 14, The New York Times, July 22, 1910, page 2, The Post Standard (Syracuse), July 22, 1910, page 2.
  • A 13-year-old altar boy of the Roman Catholic Church of the Resurrection named Percival Mabee/Maybe attempted to hang himself inside the park between 152nd and 153rd Streets. The newspapers report that he went to the spot where Athelton Cornforth killed himself the week previous. The New York Times, July 27, 1910, page 1, The Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, NY), July 27, 1910, page 1. 
  • Kate Ferrone, an Italian woman of Philadelphia, was slashed to death with a razor October 24, 1911 inside the park at Bradhurst Avenue and West 146th Street.  She and her husband were quarreling when her husband, Joseph Ferrone, cut her throat.  At trial, Ferrone told the court that she committed suicide, but no one bought that story and he was executed in the electric chair at Sing Sing on August 12, 1912. The New-York Tribune, October 25, 1911, page 1, The Sun, August 13, 1912, page 4.  
  • Anna Aumueller was murdered in an apartment at 68 Bradhurst Avenue by former priest Hans Schmidt.  Click this link to see my blog about them. 
  • An automobile sped through the railing of the Viaduct at West 155th Street  and plunged 100 feet downwards near the benches at the north end of the park.  The body of Samuel Rattner, the driver, was "driven into the ground."  Mr. Rattner was a married man living in the Bronx.  He worked as a furrier with his father at 148 West 25th Street.  The article remarks that a similar accident happened at the Viaduct a year ago.  The New York Times, June 5, 1920, page 1.
  • Five children and four adults, including a family of six, died in a fire at 307 West 146th Street, northeast corner of Bradhurst Avenue and across from the park on November 20, 1920.  The fire was believed to have been started in a "cluster of baby carriages under the ground floor stairway."  The Evening World, November 20, 1920, page 1.  
Victims of the fire at 307 West 146th Street
  • July 10, 1944 - A 15-year-old boy named John Jacob Moore of 57 West 135th Street was shot to death when a fight between rival gangs, the Chancellors and the Copinas broke out.  Four other youths were injured and a police man was seriously wounded.  The fight took place at the park on Bradhurst Avenue at West 148th Street.  Not long after this, a young man named Fred Carter of the Sabers gang was arrested along with four fellow gang members near the park on West 154th Street for violating the Sullivan Act.  Other Harlem gang names mentioned in these articles, but not connected specifically to the park, are the Marquettes and the Saints.  The New York Age, July 15, 1944, page 1, The New York Age, July 29, 1944, page 1.  The young men were referred to as hoodlums and gang members.
From The New York Age, July 23, 1949.
The Age was  a black newspaper produced from 1887 to 1953.
Interestingly, it was once acceptable to call a thug a thug.
If you ever see a ghost in Jackie Robinson Park, now you know why.

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