NYC – Greenwich Village – Christopher Park – Fire Zouaves flagstaff
Image by wallyg
This flagstaff, erected in 1936 by the Greenwich Village Historical Society, commemorates the memory of the valorous young Patriot, Elmer E. Ellsworth and his infantry unit that fought with the Union Army in the early years of the Civil War.
Organized in May 1961 by Colonel Ellsworth, the 11th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, alternately known as the Ellsworth Zouaves, First Fire Zouaves, First Regiment New York Zouaves, and Fire Zouaves, were drawn from the ranks of the city’s many volunteer fire companies. The unit was maong the first to occupy the territory of a Confederate state, when it captured Alexandria, Virginia on May 24, 1861, less than 24 hours after the Commonwealth seceded from the Union. Elmer Ephraim Ellsworth (1837-1881), who studied law in Abraham Lincoln’s office and later helped him campaign for president, was the first man of his rank killed in the Civil War, after being shot by James W. Jackson, whose Confederate Flag he cut down after capturing Alexandria. The regiment went on to suffer extensive casualties while serving as the rear guard for the retreating Union army during the First Battle of Bull Run. After several failed attempts to reorganize, it was mustered out of service on June 2, 1862.
The land that is now Christopher Park was developed from 1633 to 1638 as a tobacco farm by Wouter Van Twiller, Director-General of New Netherland. Following Van Twiller’s death, his land was divided into three farms: the Trinity Church and Elbert Herring farms to the south and Sir Peter Warren¡¦s farm to the north. Skinner Road was laid out along the line separating the Warren farm from the other two. This road was later renamed Christopher Street, honoring Charles Christopher Amos, an heir of a trustee to the Warren estate
Between 1789 and 1829, Christopher Street was subdivided into lots, and blocks were laid out along its length. Due to the irregular configuration of streets in Greenwich Village, blocks were not laid out according to a standard grid plan, and many oddly-shaped blocks were created. In the early 1800s, the population of Greenwich Village expanded dramatically, and the area around Christopher Street began to suffer from overcrowding. When a devastating fire tore through the area in 1835, residents petitioned the City to condemn a triangular block at the intersection of Christopher, Grove, and West 4th Streets and establish a much-needed open space on the site. On April 5, 1837 the City condemned the parcel and created Christopher Park.
Christopher Park, which is graced with a 130-year-old fence, contains two other monuments. Joseph Pollia’s statue of General Philip H. Sheridan stands at the eastern end. George Segal’s statue, Gay Liberation, a duplicate of the one installed at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, was placed here in 1992.