The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation has information about the Michel Triangle on its
site as well. Ironically, it is essentially what is written below. The article can be found
1512 Webster Avenue in the Bronx, NY,
across from "Our Lady of Victory Roman Catholic Church", is a .28 acre plot of land called "Michel Triangle"
(here are some pictures from my sister and her family's
visit in November 2002). At that site is a placard with the following text:
In 1940, this triangle was named to honor August Michel (1900-1918), a native of the
Bronx famous for being one of the smallest men ever in the United States Army. Originally
rejected by the army because he was too short for regulations. Michel did "stretching" exercises
and eventually meet the height requirement. Tragically, Michel died at the age of 18 at Camp
Bowie, Texas, while serving his country during the World War I.
Michel entered the Army on April 22, 1918. He died during the great Influenza Plague
that hit the United States in 1918 - the worst epidemic in our country's history, it killed more
Americans than did all the wars of the 20th century. Michel, in a display of compassion and
selflessness, thought he was less ill than some of the other soldiers, gave up his bed in the
hospital. He suffered a relapse and died on October 22, 1918.
Michel Triangle is bound by Clay Avenue, Webster Avenue, and East 165th Street.
The road that is now Clay Avenue between 164th and 167th Streets, was part of the old General
Staats Morris' racetrack that had been laid out in 1750 and survived through the mid-1800s.
Clay Avenue was also known as Elliot Street where it now runs along Claremont Park (formerly
known as the Zborowski estate "Claremont") and as Crestline Street from East 169th to East
171st Street. While Clay Avenue is believed to honor the great American senator Henry Clay
(1777-1852). A anecdotal story is that a swamp to the west of the Zborowski estate had
caused developers so much trouble that, when they found clay instead of mud, they gratefully
named the avenue in honor of their project-saving discovery.
Webster Avenue was surveyed after the Civil War and lengthened up to East 184th Street in 1879. Though many
believe Webster Avenue was named for American politician and orator Daniel Webster (1782-1852.), it is more
likely true it was named for either (or both) Albert L. Webster, an engineer in the Department of Public
Works at the time of the avenue's lengthening, or Joseph O.B. Webster, the surveyor of the project.
This property was acquired by condemnation for the building of a street by the city on December 24, 1897.
This park remained nameless until the city choose to name it in honor of Private August Michel, the
community's tiny yet brave fallen son.