Hancock Park

Located at St Nicholas Av, Manhattan Av, W. 123 St

This park is named for Civil War leader Winfield Scott Hancock (1824-1886).

In 1886 the Board of Aldermen named the recently acquired property at Manhattan and St. Nicholas Avenues at 124th Street “Hancock Place.” James Wilson Alexander MacDonald (1824 – 1908), an accomplished sculptor of Civil War heroes, was commissioned to create a heroically-sized bronze portrait bust of General Hancock. MacDonald may have based the statue on a plaster mask he took of Hancock the year he ran for president. The statue’s torso is bare except for a wide sash across the left shoulder to signify military honor. It was fabricated in 1891 and dedicated on December 30, 1893.

The park was improved with new pavements, lawns, landscaping, and curbs in 1898-99. According to the 1929 Annual Report of the Department of Parks, subway construction in the late 1920s “totally destroyed” Hancock Park. The park was restored by 1936, at which time it included the statue, lawn, seven locust trees, and an iron picket fence.

Volunteers from the Coalition of 100 Black Women made early horticultural enhancements to the park starting in 1981. Further improvements made in 1998 and 1999 focused on the Hancock monument and plantings. The Citywide Monuments Conservation Program, a public – private partnership, maintain the portrait bust of General Hancock with regular cleanings and waxings. New plantings include evergreens, golden yellow tulip bulbs, lawn, groundcover, and a perennial garden.

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park. (From NYC Parks website.)