The smallest public park I know sits at the corner of Easton Avenue and John F. Kennedy Boulevard. Near this intersection, a historic event occurred – the first inter-continental wireless communication, and all due to Guglielmo Marconi. This is the beginning of the inter-connected world we live in today. But it’s something we rarely think about, nowadays.
The park is charmingly small. The park is ridiculously small. Really, depending on the day, I vacillate between these two statements. Marconi Park is a traffic island covered in trees and grass, between the busy southbound jug handle right turn going from Easton Avenue up to JFK Boulevard and northbound JFK Boulevard itself. The shape is an irregular quadrilateral, coming to a point at the southern end, where the jug handle and road come together. It is the least-convenient to-visit park I’ve ever seen. So, without a car, I traveled there on a sunny summer day, simply because , most of the time, the park is empty of people and looks lonely.
To its credit, it is the most park you could put in such a small place. There is a decorative flower-garden along the edge of the North and East sides. There is grass and there are tall trees, and plenty of shade in which sits its single park bench, on the back of which is a dedicatory plaque. There is a flagpole, and there is even a gazebo. There is a ridiculously small parking area. Every year, the Township has its holiday tree lighting there. There is also a monument, which is a gigantic rough-hewn stone with bronze plaques on two of its flat sides. I just felt I wanted to record what was on them. Knowledge of the historical event, and knowledge of the beginnings of the park are both evaporating from living memory, as is true of everything.
The back of the park bench reads:
Craftsmanship donated by Boy Scout Troop #113
Materials donated by Lattanzio Lumber Company.
This is the text of the historical plaque, on one side of the monument:
This monument is dedicated in memory of Guglielmo Marconi (1874 – 1937), and the accomplishments which occurred at this site in the field of wireless communication. On this corner in 1913, the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Co. established a 200- kilowatt station, known by the call letters NFF. With 13 antennas supported by 415-foot poles, NFF became the most powerful wireless station of its time. Taken over by the Navy at the outbreak of World War I, station NFF carried the bulk of the radio traffic between this country and Europe. This included transmission of President Woodrow Wilson’s “14 Points” message delivered to Congress outlining his plan for an armistice. In October 1918, station NFF called enemy German station POZ to transmit Wilson’s address to the German people, calling for peace. After the war, station NFF became part of RCA and continued to operate until the late 1940s. The antennas were taken down in the 1950s, with the main station demolished in 1974.
And this is the text of the dedication of the park itself, on the other side of the monument:
Guglielmo Marconi Memorial Park Dedication
April 26, 1992
The dedicated leadership provided to obtain, develop and name the site was spearheaded by local residents:
Mayor Helen Reilly
Jane Santangelo Juzwiak
Thomas E. Zweigard
Special thanks go to the Franklin Township Mayor and Council, Township Manager John Lovell, Assistant Manager Greg Howarth, Alice Osipowitz, Department of Parks and Recreation and to the Somerset County Board of Chosen Freeholders for their approval and assistance.
This giant rock monument generously donated and placed by the Kingston Trap Rock Company.