JAMES J. Walker Park, today facing Hudson Street between St. Lukes Place and West Houston Street, was once an uptown branch of Trinity Cemetery, established in 1801 as a churchyard for the long-razed St. John’s Chapel; it was bordered by Hudson, Carmine, and Morton Streets. Meanwhile, Leroy Street went only from Hudson to West Street. Leroy was extended past the cemetery in 1845, with the connector named for St. Luke in the Fields Church, still standing at Hudson and Grove.
Though the cemetery inspired Edgar Allan Poe to write several macabre tales when he lived in the area in the 1830s, it was closed by 1898 and turned into Hudson Park, a high-concept collection of lush marble terraces and gazebos built by renowned architects Carrere and Hastings.
Though some of the interred were moved to cemeteries like Uptown Trinity, some never were and remain in place underground. The only remnant of the cemetery visible to the eye is this firemen’s memorial, set in place in 1834, honoring Engine Co. 13 firemen Eugene Underhill and Frederick J. Ward, who were 20 and 22 years old, respectively. They perished fighting a blaze in Pearl Street, crushed to death under a falling wall. When the plot became a park the memorial was moved to the St. Luke’s Place side.
This horse-headed hitching post may be the real McCoy moved from elsewhere, or it could be a replica. Real ones do pup up in NYC’s outlying areas and in cemeteries.
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