Heisser Triangle, a small well-tended park at the corner of Myrtle and Knickerbocker Avenues in Bushwick, commemorates Charles Heisser, a local young man who was killed in action in France near the end of World War I.
The life size Fighting Doughboy sculpture at the center of the park was dedicated in 1921 “to the memory of the Bushwick-Ridgewood boys who served in the World War 1917-1918.” It’s an early work of Italian-American sculptor Pietro Montana, who studied at Cooper Union and the Mechanics Institute. Replicas of the statue can be found elsewhere in New York, New Jersey, and Ohio.
Soon after WWI, communities throughout the nation installed doughboy sculptures to memorialize the role of American infantrymen during the war. These statues are among the first known mass-produced memorials ever made, and hundreds can still be found across the country. The doughboy was seen as a symbol of strength and loyalty at a time the nation was anxious over new outbreaks of Spanish influenza and the well-being of returning veterans.
Fun Fact: One theory for the origin of the nickname “doughboy” comes from the Mexican border, where American infantrymen fought Pancho Villa in 1916. Covered in white adobe dust, the foot soldiers were called “adobes” or “dobies” by mounted troops. Within a few months, these dobies, or doughboys, were redeployed to the war in Europe.