This small park is named for a not-quite-gone and not-quite-forgotten water feature of Lower Manhattan: Minetta brook.
When Dutch colonists settled in Manhattan in the 1620s, they learned from local Native Americans about a small brook that was full of trout. It originated near what is now Gramercy Park, burbled its way over and beneath Greenwich Village, and emptied into the Hudson at what is now West Houston Street. The Native Americans called the stream "Mannette," which was translated as "Devil's Water." The Dutch called the water Mintje Kill, meaning small stream.
Several families of freed slaves, released by the Dutch, established farms and homes along the Minetta Brook as early as the 1640s. With African Americans continuing to settle here in the 18th and 19th centuries, the area became known as "Little Africa." Most of the brook has been covered over, though some Village residents claim that it flows beneath their basements and sometimes causes flooding. In the lobby of the apartment building at 2 Fifth Avenue, there is a transparent tube that is said to contain murky water spouting up from Minetta Brook.
This triangle, located at the northeast corner of the Avenue of the Americas and Minetta Lane, is one of three nearby parks named after the feisty brook. The City
of New York acquired this parcel in 1925 as part of the southerly extension of Sixth Avenue (now Avenue of the Americas) and assigned it to Parks in 1945 after deeming the .075 acre excess. In 1992, community members formed the Bleecker Area Merchant and Resident Association, or B.A.M.R.A. Along with the Bedford Downing Block Association, or B.D.B.A., they developed a successful proposal for the renovation of Minetta Triangle, Sir Winston Churchill Square, and Minetta Green.
New trees and shrubs, along with the creation of a curvilinear bluestone path featuring images of trout, transformed the rigid geometry of Minetta Triangle. Circular sitting areas surrounding trees punctuate the garden path. Small mounds, built up in the interior of the path, add depth to the previously flat landscape and create more of a pastoral setting. Once predominantly concrete, the sitting area has a become green garden cove.
City of New York Parks and Recreation
Michael R. Bloomberg, Mayor
Adrian Benepe, Commissioner