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Monday, July 27, 2015

Memorial Gore

Just to keep things philologically interesting, Brooklyn's park pioneers denoted a couple of tiny parks with the word "gore" instead of (or in addition to) "park." memorial gore williamsburg brooklyn nycI first encountered the term two years ago when I discovered Cuyler Gore (Park) in Fort Greene. And the other day on my way to visit Cooper Park I happened upon Memorial Gore.

Right now at least, this Williamsburg gore is the less welcoming of the two.

A "gore" in this context is a small triangular park. The word may come from the textile industry, where a gore is a triangular piece of cloth, as the Parks Department website suggests – much like Mayor Lindsay's vest pocket parks. But the OED tells me the word is also used for a triangular piece of land, as well as triangular components in architecture and other fields.

Once an English major, always an English major. If you've got a problem with that, take it up with Garrison Keillor.

In any case, triangles are the common factor, and here's something else with three sides and a point: a spearhead. The use of "gore" for a small pointed park seems to be from the same root that gave us today's much more common meaning of being impaled by a spear or bullhorn, and by extension, the viscera that come out of your body as a result. Nice!

Violence like the shooting that occurred last week in Franz Sigel Park are unlikely in Memorial Gore, at least for the moment, as it is locked up tight.

memorial gore williamsburg brooklyn nyc

The memorial is perfectly visible from the surrounding sidewalks, though. Sculpted by the Piccirilli Brothers of Lincoln Memorial fame and dedicated in 1920, its sides are engraved with the names of World War I dead.

memorial gore williamsburg brooklyn nyc

It's all the same white color, but the big sphere is marble and the eagle bronze, according to the Parks Department website.

memorial gore williamsburg brooklyn nyc

The site also notes a $20,000 renovation funded in 1999, but evidently this affected the little park's surroundings more than its grounds. It also reports that "Council Member Kenneth K. Fisher is funding a $50,000 renovation to the site that will provide new play equipment with safety surfacing and new fences."

I couldn't detect any play equipment, old or new, through the fences or the locked gate. The only sign that people were ever meant to enter here is an extremely overgrown pathway leading in from the gate. Peer carefully into the following photo and you can pick it out. It's at the bottom and just to the left of center.

memorial gore williamsburg brooklyn nyc

Maybe someday we'll be able to tread its secretive stones.

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