One hundred and sixteen years ago today, a love triangle murder scandalized Manhattan. Andrew Haswell Green known as the “Father of Greater New York” was gunned down outside his Park Avenue home. The eighty-three-year-old was returning from a morning meeting on Friday the 13th when Cornelius Williams mistook him for another man.
Green pleaded for his life, but the deranged Williams wouldn’t listen and shot him five times outside his front door. Newspapers revealed that Williams was in love with an exotic black woman who was having an affair with John R. Platt, who he thought was named Green.
Forty-six years earlier, Green was head of the Board of Education that banned Elizabeth Jennings and Helen Appo from graduating with their teaching class because they were black. Later, he piloted the construction of Central Park, the Bronx Zoo, and the American Museum of Natural History. In 1898, he consolidated the region into the five boroughs of New York City.
Despite his innocence, the intrigue followed Green to the grave. The man who was convinced that African Americans were intellectually tainted was guilty by association with the scandal and forgotten. Until recently, only a lone granite bench in an isolated section of Central Park recognized his accomplishments. In 2017, a rehabilitated section of East River waterfront was dedicated to him.