John Paul Jones Park

New York City, New York (NY)

John Paul Jones Park is a West Brooklyn park dedicated to John Paul Jones, 'father of the Navy', and made famous by a decomissioned cannon created in 1864.

If you make the journey to the Brooklyn end of the Verrazzano Bridge, where John Paul Jones Park lies, you'll find a treasure trove of hidden military gems.

- © Vanessa Sang

The John Paul Jones Park Cannon

Its most famous feature by far is a huge black cannon, discarded 20 inch shot lined up in front. The gun was made by artillerist Thomas Jackson Rodman in 1864.

It once served as part of the defences of Fort Pitt, Pennsylvania. It was fired a few times, but never actually saw conflict. This was probably a good thing, it having failed two of its trials when tested at Fort Hamilton, not far from John Paul Jones Park.

It completed its round trip back to the park in 1900, after it was decomissioned, and remains there today.

- © Vanessa Sang

The Revolutionary War Memorial

Another of the park's features is the Revolutionary War Memorial. This is comprised of a granite boulder containing a bronze plaque commemorating 'the first resistance made to British arms in New York State August 1776'.

The Revolutionary War was the same war in which John Paul Jones made his name, fighting the British before becoming the 'first captain of the US Navy'.

Who was John Paul Jones?

He was born a Scotsman and is about as controversial as you'd expect someone who has an old park named after them to be. His early career was spent working on merchant and slave ships.

He inherited his own ship by fluke, his former captain and first mate having died of yellow fever, and soon became known as a ruthless disciplinarian and maybe even a murderer. A crew member he'd ordered flogged died under suspicious circumstances not long after. Whilst on bail for his crimes John Paul Jones fled to Tobago.

Here he ran into more trouble, slicing down a mutinous crew member in what he claimed was self-defence. He didn't wait around to find out whether anyone believed him, but instead fled to America to join the Revolutionary cause.

The John Paul Jones Park Flagpole

In John Paul Jones Park, a 70ft flagpole taken from a Naval destroyer stands in honour of this dubious man, calling him the 'father of the navy'. And there is some truth to this. His ship was the first to be saluted by the French after they signed the Treaty of Alliance formally recognising the USA as an independent state. He was not however the first commander of America's Revolutionary Naval Force, the Continental Navy.

He joined the war late, in 1776, as the captain of a sloop and, despite military success, remained a controversial figure throughout, often feuding with his commanding officers and ending his career not as an American officer, but as rear admiral of the Russian Navy.

Probably not what most people would expect from the USA's 'father of the Navy'.

- © Vanessa Sang

The Dover Patrol Naval War Memorial

The final memorial in John Paul Jones Park is a tall, copper topped obelisk commemorating WW1's Dover Patrol, a British Royal Navy Force that served alongside the US in WW1, sinking German U-boats, sweeping and laying mines, escorting supply ships and bombarding the Belgian cost.

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What you need to know

John Paul Jones Park
Shore Parkway, 101st St, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Tips before you visit

John Paul Jones Park Opening Hours:

6am - 1am daily