A. Philip Randolph Square

Located at the intersection of St. Nicholas Avenue, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard, and W. 117th Street.
What was here before?
This section of Harlem was home to the Lenape prior to colonization by Dutch Settlers in the 1660s. St. Nicholas Avenue lies west of this park and was referred to as Harlem Lane during colonial times, connecting Harlem Village to Spuyten Duyvil. A house was built by the Van Bramer family in the Dutch style on this site in the mid-1700s. This land remained in their family until at least 1891.
How did this site become a square?

The site was acquired by the City through condemnation in 1896 for the purpose of building a public park. It formerly contained one of the many brownstone milestone markers, built 1769, that denoted the distance of various sites from City Hall.

The square, named for Union General Judson Kilpatrick, opened in 1908 with a central walk flanked by grass plots and lined with trees and benches. In 1922, it was renamed for Admiral George B. Dewey, a naval hero in the Spanish-American War. Dewey Square also provided the inspiration for and title of a 1947 song by great jazz saxophonist Charlie Parker, who lived in the area at the time.

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

Who is this square named for?
In 1964, former Councilman J. Raymond Jones sponsored a local law to change the name of Dewey Square to A. Philip Randolph Square in order to honor the great union organizer and civil rights leader, A. Philip Randolph. The current design and configuration of the square may also date to the local law that renamed the park.

To learn more about A. Philip Randolph, click here.