Across the road from the monolithic bulk of Grant’s Tomb, you’ll find a far more modest granite monument—this one dedicated to not a war hero, but a toddler. On July 15, 1797, a five-year-old boy named St. Claire Pollock met his end near the spot, possibly from a fall into the Hudson. The owner of the property (either Pollock’s uncle or father) placed a grave marker on the site, dedicated to “the Memory of an Amiable Child.” Through the area’s many transfers of ownership and even after the area became a public park in the late 19th century, the stone was maintained and replaced whenever it deteriorated. In his 1908 poem “An Amiable Child,” Herman George Scheffauer wrote: “Thy grave seems like a song / Of peace in iron frays.” Ah, youth.
New York’s parks may look pretty and innocent now, but don’t be fooled: from Prospect Park to waterside hangout Riverside Park, the city’s green spaces have been the site of all manner of less-than-legal dealings, tragic deaths and scandalous happenings—not to mention strange bohemian goings-on. Nobody ever said NYC’s history was all sunshine and flowers, right?
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