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Monday, April 20, 2015

Petrosino Square

Petrosino Square is a small street-intersection park in Soho. It's a prime exhibit for the proposition that even inherently uninteresting parks are always worth checking out, for the history if not the hibiscus.

petrosino square nyc

The former Kenmare Square, actually a triangle (as are so many New York City "squares"), is named for the colorful and truly heroic Police Lieutenant Joseph Petrosino.

petrosino square nyc

Born in 1860 in Salerno, Italy, Giuseppe Michele Pasquale Petrosino worked undercover in Little Italy to undermine the Black Hand and Mafia gangs. He also investigated anarchists and founded the bomb squad and the canine squad, the first of their kinds in the U.S., according to the Parks Department website (though Wikipedia's writer doesn't mention them).

petrosino square nycIn 1895 Theodore Roosevelt, then president of the Police Commission board (precursor to today's sole "Commissioner"), promoted Petrosino to sergeant of detectives.

In 1909 Petrosino went to Sicily on a supposedly secret mission to collect the penal certificates of a number of U.S.-resident Italian criminals to help extradite them from the United States. There, in Palermo, he became the only New York police officer ever to die in the line of duty in a foreign country. Yes, the Black Hand had got him. has lots more information and some great photos.

Seventy-eight springtimes later, this little park was renamed for him.

petrosino square nyc

The plaza is about as boring as can be.

petrosino square nyc

But the flowers and the Citibikes bloom together on a sunny April afternoon.

petrosino square nyc

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