After 116 Years, Vaux’s Death In Gravesend Bay Still A Mystery

Ephemeral New York has a piece on the mysterious death of one of the most prolific builders of 19th Century Gotham, Calvert Vaux. Vaux met his demise right here in Bensonhurst, in the same body of water another untimely death occurred over the weekend.

Calvert Vaux, who, along with partner Frederick Law Olmstead, had designed both Central Park and Prospect Park, was staying with his son on 20th Avenue between Bath Avenue and Benson Avenue when, on November 21, 1895, newspapers announced the famous architect was missing.

Ephemeral New York (quote from NY Times):

“Mr. Vaux had left in his son’s house a gold watch and chain and his vest. It is believed he had about $2 in change in his pockets.”
Hotels, hospitals, even Prospect Park were all searched. But Vaux was nowhere to be found.
The next day’s paper reported grim news: Vaux’s body was found in Gravesend Bay.

Journalists at the Times speculated that the then 70-rear-old Vaux had simply fallen “off the pier in an attack of dizziness or faintness.”

Vaux’s son did not believe for a second his father had committed suicide and authorities ruled out murder almost immediately.

Captain Ditmar, a local whose pier Vaux had walked out towards, saw Vaux and according to the Times, had even spoken with him.

Today, almost 116 years later, the death remains shrouded in mystery.