Originally called Brooklyn Bridge Plaza, this 10.4-acre park was constructed in 1940 as part of a redevelopment effort to create an automobile ramp onto the Brooklyn Bridge. The project reflected the dual goals of the administration of Parks Commissioner Robert Moses: to increase parkland and access to recreation and to improve traffic circulation throughout the city. The park now forms part of the border between the neighborhoods of Brooklyn Heights and Downtown Brooklyn.
The long, linear park is dominated by the Brooklyn War Memorial, a massive granite and limestone monument dedicated in 1952 to the 300,000 Brooklyn residents who served in World War II. Designed by Gilmore Clarke, Stuart Constable and W. Earle Andrews with architects Eggers and Higgins, the monument consists of a 24-foot tall wall with two classically-styled sculptures by Charles Keck. Extending in front of the monument are a shallow stone plaza and long, narrow expanse of lawn lined with symmetrical pathways and rows of London plane trees, a signature tree type during the Moses era. The lawn was recently resurfaced with Astroturf to better accommodate active recreation. On the west side of the park is a monument honoring William Jay Gaynor, mayor of New York from 1910-1913. The park was renamed Cadman Plaza Park to honor the Reverend Dr. Samuel Parks Cadman, a distinguished Brooklyn minister and leader of Central Congregational Church in Brooklyn from 1900 to 1936.