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City names Francis Lewis January Park of the Month

Francis Lewis Park, the 16.8-acre stretch of land and water underneath the Whitestone Bridge, was named January's Park of the Month by the Parks department.Officials said the serene environment coupled with the storied history of the park won the park the designation."Francis Lewis Park is an idyllic neighborhood park that offers picturesque views of the East River and the Whitestone Bridge," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. "Although his home in Whitestone was burned by the British in 1776, the legacy of this patriotic merchant lives on in Francis Lewis Park."The park was named after Francis Lewis, a Whitestone resident and signer of the Declaration of Independence whose country home was burned to the ground when the British attacked New York during the Revolutionary War. His wife was captured and treated so poorly in prison that she died shortly after her release.In 1774, he served as a New York delegate to the Provincial Convention, which elected him to the Continental Congress, where he served from 1775 to 1779. On July 4, 1776, Lewis signed the Declaration of Independence.He died in 1802 at the age of 89.Today the park that bears his name sits on the waterfront of the northern Queens residential neighborhood. Intertwined throughout the park are winding paths that lead to scenic lookouts of the bridge and the East River. The location is perhaps best known for its bocce courts, where local players frequently gather to play the traditional Italian sport. Other amenities include the playground, a spray shower, four handball courts, two half-basketball courts and a comfort station.Located within the borders of Third Avenue, 147th Street, the East River and Parsons Boulevard, Francis Lewis Park also boasts a wealth of benches and scenery that is often used as the backdrop for wedding photos. Reach reporter Scott Sieber by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

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