THE Walloons were Protestants from what is now Belgium who had fled to Holland to escape religious oppression from the Catholic majority, but also faced the same trouble in the Netherlands from the Reformed populations. The solution, in the 17th Century, was to make a go of it in the New World and so, Jesse DeForest and a band of 32 Belgian Walloon, or Huguenot, families appealed first to the British to allow them transit to North America. Denied, they shipped out with the Dutch, arriving in May 1624 aboard the ship the ship Nieu Nederland. Even today, the Walloon and Dutch influence is noticeable in Staten Island street names along the north and west shore, where we find Walloon and Brabant Streets, as well as Huguenot Avenue.
The monument in Battery Park to the Walloon Settlers is a 10-foot tall granite stele dedicated in 1924. Its architect, Henry Bacon, also designed Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Memorial (1911-22) and Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Pool (1922)—as well as NYC’s ubiquitous Type A, B and E park lampposts.
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