West Side Rag’s series on NYC’s smaller parks

 Walks in 7 Days: A Park Filled With Beauty and Melancholy

Posted on June 11, 2020 at 11:44 pm by West Sider

By Marjorie Cohen

The sixth in our 7 Walks in 7 Days around the Upper West Side will take you to a statue in a small park.

Straus Park, triangle at intersection of Broadway and West End Avenue at 106th Street

This lovely little park, tended carefully by the nonprofit Friends of Straus Park, was named for Ida and Isidore Straus, an early twentieth century power couple. The Strauses owned a country house on the land where 924 West End Avenue now stands. Their “city” house was on West 72nd Street.

Straus was co-owner, with his brother, of R.H. Macy and Abraham and Straus. The New York Times called call him “a supporter of almost every philanthropic and charitable institution in New York, regardless of creed.” Ida and Isidore were on the Titanic when it sank in 1912.

The couple’s sad story is one of incredible marital devotion. Here is how Tom Miller tells it:

On April 19, 1912, just four days after the sinking of the RMS Titanic, Alfred Crawford testified before the United States Senate committee investigating the disaster. Crawford had been a stateroom steward on the doomed ship.

Chester testified that he was in a lifeboat and took Mrs. Straus’ hand to help her in. “She started to get in, but then changed her mind and went back.”

Senator Smith asked “Started to get in?”

“Yes, she had one foot on the gunwale and then drew back,” said Chester.

Ida Straus looked back to her husband of 41 years standing on the deck and let go of Chester’s hand. “We have been together a number of years,’ she said to her husband. ‘Where you will go I will go.”

She then instructed her maid to take her place on the lifeboat.

Later, as the aged couple sat quietly on deck chairs holding hands, the grand RMS Titanic slipped beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

The statue of Memory, which Chistopher Gray called “exquisite in its understatement,” honors this unique couple. At the base of the statue, a plaque reads: “In their death they were not divided.”

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