MacNeil Park – College Point, Queens, NYBy
Hermon A. MacNeil Park in College Point, Queens, offers 29-acre of waterfront property “popular with runners, walkers, and families year-round for its wraparound promenade with sweeping views of the East River, Long Island Sound, Whitestone Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline.”
MacNeil Park, formerly known as Chisholm Park, was renamed in honor of Hermon Atkins MacNeil in 1966, the 100th anniversary of his birth. MacNeil was a long time resident of College Point where he worked at his home and adjacent studio. Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe describes the spot, named for one of America’s greatest sculptors, as “a spectacular waterfront landscape … with sweeping views of the Long Island Sound from its waterfront promenades, majestic trees, ballfields, and a 9/11 Memorial, this park is worth a detour.”
According to the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department, “In spring 2005, MacNeil Park became the third in New York City to introduce a memorial grove to the victims of September 11, 2001. The site was chosen for its direct views of Lower Manhattan and its significance as a place of community gathering. The collection of 31 white flowering trees and 800 narcissus plants was jointly funded by Parks & Recreation and the U.S. Forest Service as part of a citywide effort to develop urban forests as living memorials. Each of the grove’s rare trees (such as White Flowering Redbuds and Thornless Hawthorne) was selected for its unique beauty. The grove is divided into three connected areas, each portraying a symbolic aspect of how human beings deal with suffering and loss.“
History of MacNeil Park
“MacNeil Park was formerly known as Chisholm Park, after the young couple who lived in the stone mansion on the site in the 1840’s. Mayor Fiorello LaGuardio made the Chisolm mansion his summer City Hall in 1937, conducting his municipal business in July and August on the shores of the East River.
The old mansion was razed between 1939 and 1941, and a flagpole now marks the site. In 1966, Mayor John V. Lindsay signed his first local law, renaming the park for Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947), a College Point resident and nationally renowned sculptor.
MacNeil’s sculptures can be seen in four of New York City’s five boroughs, including Washington as Commander-in-Chief at the base of the Washington Square Arch in Manhattan; a cast of his Sun Vow in the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn; the Flushing War Memorial in Queens; and four busts in the Hall of Fame of Great Americans at Bronx Community College. His other notable works include the figures on the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C. and Out From Chaos Came the Dawn, which earned him the honor of being the first American to receive the Prix de Rome.”