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Place Category: Parks and Playgrounds
“The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” This famous sentence contains every letter of the alphabet, and is used by companies worldwide to demonstrate font types. It is an example of a pangram, a sentence that uses the whole alphabet. Quick Brown Fox Triangle is home, appropriately, to a statue of a brown fox. The sitting area, tucked behind the wall of the Long Island Expressway, offers visitors shaded benches and a touch of green.
Quick Brown Fox Triangle is located in Maspeth, Queens. Maspeth derives its name from that of an Indian tribe, the Mespat, who inhabited the region at the head of Newtown Creek. The neighborhood is in the middle of Queens, and is surrounded on three sides by cemeteries: Mt. Olivet Lutheran Cemetery, Calvary Cemetery, Linden Hill Cemetery, New Calvary Cemetery, and Mt. Zion Cemetery.
In the five years between 1793 and 1798, New York City suffered terrible outbreaks of yellow fever, and by the end of the crisis, the city had lost nearly five percent of its population. An investigation into the causes of the outbreaks found shockingly unsanitary conditions, and the City responded with sweeping health reforms. Those reforms effectively staved off yellow fever for several years, but in the summer of 1803, the disease struck again. In 1805, the City created the Board of Health, which used its powers to evacuate residents from all streets near the East River, where the epidemic hit the hardest. This successfully warded off the disease for another 14 years. In 1830, a Manhattan ordinance forbade burials below Canal Street, and land in the suburbs was set aside for cemeteries. Newtown, the region between Brooklyn and Queens, was the site of so many cemeteries that it was often called “the city of the dead.”
Located near Maspeth Creek, at the head of Newtown Creek, Maspeth was the first area in Queens to be settled by Europeans, in 1642. The area was significant during the American Revolution, and was home to the Old Queen’s Head Tavern, from which General Howe watched his soldiers enter Manhattan after a victory in the Battle of Long Island (1776). Maspeth became an early center of industry, and its eastern edge remains commercial.
More recently, Maspeth has seen an influx of Korean, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Greek immigrants. Many of its residents are employed in public service, filling the vital positions of the City’s firefighters, sanitation workers, laborers, and transportation workers. The region is fairly isolated from the rest of Queens because of the Long Island Expressway, which serves as one of its borders. While industry is still dominant in the region, Maspeth’s residential areas have remained suburban; most of its streets are lined with single-family houses.
The City acquired this property in 1953, during the construction of the Long Island Expressway, then known as the Queens-Midtown Expressway. Parks gained jurisdiction over the triangle in 1957 for maintenance and operation. In May 2001, Quick Brown Fox Triangle was reconstructed, thanks to a $600,000 contribution from Council Member Karen Koslowitz. Although the park is officially part of the L.I.E., it offers neighborhood residents a pleasant refuge from the highway and its noise.