Straus Park Hosts Event to Highlight New Renovations, Commemorate Titanic Sinking and Straus Family

straus park april 2024 event

Attendees gathered at Straus Park this past weekend.

Friends of Straus Park (FOSP) hosted an event on Sunday, April 14 to commemorative the 112th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic as well as the Straus Family who perished on the Titanic’s maiden voyage. The event also celebrated a 2023 volunteer project through which all 48 benches at the small park on 106th and Broadway were renovated and preserved.

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Event guests included Councilmember Shaun Abreu and Ian Robertson, a naval historian speaking about the Titanic tragedy and the Straus family.

Ian Robertson Naval Historian

Ian Robertson, Naval Historian

“The Titanic was unsinkable,” said Robertson. “The greatest ship of her day. It was a wonderful evening on board. All day she had been warned about icebregs. But because it was a maiden voyage and she wanted to beat all records, she didn’t slow down. But at 11:40pm, the Titanic encountered the iceberg that tried to avoid, it cut a gash on the starboard side. Three of the watertight compartments were punctured dooming the ship. When told to get in the liefeboat, she refused. Ida Straus refused to get in a lifeboat. She said I’ve been with this man all these years, I’m not leaving him now.”

Leaders of FOSP profiled the renovation effort.

“The park renovation project transformed Straus Park into a more welcoming park with benches that will last for many decades to come because of our work,” said Paul Froehlich, communications director for Friends of Straus Park. “Before our work, the benches were covered in mold, dirt and greying from the sun. We chose to use an environmentally-sound approach, using a battery powered pressure washer, hand sanding, and the best tree oil-Tung oil – for preserving the wood. Our 10-member volunteer team worked through the summer and completed the park’s benches in early Fall 2023. We discovered that the benches were built with Ipe wood – an excellent, durable Brazilian hardwood, assuring that our benches would last for many years to come. So, in a sense, we discovered a treasure within our park that we have preserved for all to enjoy.”

At the event, FOSP members also described the park’s distinctive seasonal flower plantings and plans to renovate the park’s metal fences this year. Joe Arbo, a Horiculturist with FOSP, said they’ll be “buying and installing new trash cans that should prevent rats from getting in. This should help make the park much cleaner this year.”


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