“He went to New York,” The Evening Public Ledger reported, “and saw it — a piece scarcely large enough for the erection of a slot machine.”

The building that the smoke shop occupies had been built by then. It was a cigar store, and Frank Hess arranged for the owners to lease the triangle. The deal called for it to be marked so “the city might know it had not been dedicated to public purposes,” The Evening Public Ledger explained. “Had the piece been allowed to remain unmarked and unfenced, the city might have claimed it.”

So the plaque was laid, saying the triangle belonged to the Hess estate. The last six words mattered the most, at least to the Hesses: “Never been dedicated for public purposes.”

The Hess estate finally sold the triangle to the cigar store’s owners in the 1930s, for $100, about $1,781 in today’s dollars. At the time, the Hesses had been charging the store rent of “a couple of hundred dollars a year,” according to The New York Herald Tribune. The triangle has been a part of the cigar store’s lot ever since.

For all the times that the Hess triangle was in the newspapers (and, more recently, online), it did not get the spotlight the way a slightly larger but still small slice of the city did.

That sliver belonged to Brian G. Hughes, a “famous joker,” as the headline on his obituary described him when he died in 1924. He had also been the president of the Dollar Savings Bank in the Bronx and the owner of a company that made paper boxes.

He said he would give the city the little piece of land he owned for use as a park.

He arranged for a ceremony to hand over the deed. He hired a band to entertain the crowd that showed up — all without saying exactly where the property was or how large it was. Meaning, how small.