Landmarks Designates Frederick Douglass Memorial Park in Staten Island

Frederick Douglass Memorial Park. Image Credit: LPC.

On June 18, 2024, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Frederick Douglass Memorial Park as an individual landmark. The memorial park, located at 3201 Amboy Road in Staten Island, was created in the 1930s to provide a place for the city’s African American population to be buried with dignity and respect at a time where many cemeteries had separate entrances and less desired sections of cemeteries for people based on race.

The park was founded by Rodney Dade with Benjamin Diamond and Frederick A. Bunn in 1933. They commissioned J. Wallace Higgins to design the memorial park. The park is 14.88 acres featuring extensive landscaping and natural elements. The park has curving pathways, flat monuments, and watering and drainage systems. A spot for a future memorial for abolitionist, writer, and activist Frederick Douglass was built into the design of the original park. The Douglass monument was dedicated in 1961 and designed by Angus McGougall. 

Since the park began accepting burials in 1935, the site has been the final resting place of some of the city’s notable figures. Some of the notable people buried in the memorial park include jazz and blues singer Mamie Smith in 1946; jazz trumpeter Tommy Ladnier in 1939; and professional baseball player Sol White in 1955. The memorial park is still an active cemetery today. 

Landmarks voted unanimously to designate the memorial park. 

Mayor Eric Adams stated, “On the day before Juneteenth, New York City remembers our shared history by shining a light on a memorial park that opened its doors when others turned Black New Yorkers away. Frederick Douglass Memorial Park offered a dignified and dedicated space for the Black community to honor those who transitioned. Today, our administration plays its part by commemorating those who stood up against injustice and by officially designating Frederick Douglass Memorial Park a landmark.” 

Landmarks Chair Sarah Carroll stated, “Frederick Douglass Memorial Park represents the enduring strength and resilience of New York’s Black community, who created a place of beauty in the face of injustice and overcame racism and discrimination to ensure their loved ones had a dignified resting place. Today’s designation reflects LPC’s ongoing commitment to recognizing, protecting, and celebrating places of Black cultural and historical significance, and ensures that Frederick Douglass Memorial Park will be preserved for future generations to come.”

Council Member Kamillah Hanks, who represents the district, stated, “This recognition is long overdue and will solidify Frederick Douglass Memorial Park’s place in our city’s history. Landmark status will provide the necessary support and resources to maintain and enhance the park, allowing it to continue serving as a place of reflection, remembrance, and celebration of African American heritage. By achieving landmark status, we ensure that future generations recognize and honor the contributions of African Americans to our city’s rich history.

Frederick Douglass Memorial Park Board President Brandon Stradford stated, “The Board of Directors is thrilled that Frederick Douglass Memorial Park has been selected to receive such an honor. On behalf of the families of the loved ones entrusted in our care, we extend a heartfelt ‘Thank You.'”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the Editor of CityLand and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)



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