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Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
This square, nestled behind Staten Island’s Borough Hall, honors the island’s eighth borough president and municipal court judge, Edward Grant Baker (1906-1971). Baker possessed a personality that combined a judicial temperament with a zest for life’s pleasures. His taste for music and poetry was complimented by a love of fishing and baseball. He also held a deep-seated faith in the workings of the American political system tempered by a longstanding wariness of bureaucracy.
Known affectionately as “Buddy,” Baker was one of the most popular men to ever run for public office in Staten Island. In 1946 he was elected on the Democratic line to the Municipal Court Bench in the face of a Republican sweep on Staten Island. Nine years later, he won 67 percent of the popular vote cast for borough president and carried every one of Staten Island’s 115 election districts. While serving as borough president in 1954, Baker was picked by the Democrats to run for a seat on the Supreme Court. Endorsed by both conservatives and liberals alike, he ran unopposed, and was subsequently elected a Justice of the Supreme Court.
In 1967 Baker was also elected to be one of Staten Island’s three delegates to the state Constitutional Convention. At the convention he served as chairman of the Committee of Local Government and Home Rule. Baker passed away in September 1971.
Baker Square is a Greenstreet. Greenstreets is a joint project of Parks and the New York City Department of Transportation begun in 1986 and revived in 1994. Its goal is to convert paved street properties, such as triangles and malls, into green spaces.
On Sunday, June 4, 2000, Parks Commissioner Henry Stern was joined by Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari, Congressperson Vito Fossella, Jr., Assembly Member Elizabeth Connelly, Borough Commissioner Thomas Paulo, and City Council Members James Oddo and Stephen Fiala for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the brand new Baker Square Greenstreet. Also present was P.S. 16’s fourth grade class 4-425, who serenaded the audience. Through a $73,000 requirements contract, new benches and steel fencing were installed, and new pavement and greenery was added. Three amelanchier trees were planted, along with rhododendron, pachysandra, and several different perennials.