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Mysterious 'See No Evil' Sign in Kew Gardens Park Puzzles Locals

By Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska | August 23, 2017 3:13pm | Updated on August 23, 2017 5:25pm
 ‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ sign appeared recently at Newcombe Square in Kew Gardens.
‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ sign appeared recently at Newcombe Square in Kew Gardens.
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DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

UPDATE: The sign at the park has now been replaced by a new one saying "Newcombe Square."

QUEENS — Kew Gardens residents were baffled by a mysterious sign reading "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" that recently went up in a tiny park at the busy intersection of Queens Boulevard and Union Turnpike.

The square sign, which appears to feature the official Parks Department's logo, was placed over the original rectangular sign that read “Newcombe Square.”

David Wellington, a Kew Gardens resident who passes by the park on a regular basis, said he first noticed the sign about three weeks ago. 

"The sign looks like an official Park Service sign, including the leaf logo, but it was installed in a slapdash way so that part of the old sign is still visible," the puzzled neighbor said.

The "see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil" phrase is associated with the old tale of three wise monkeys covering their eyes, ears and mouth, which is sometimes interpreted as turning a blind eye to important issues.

Though a representative for the agency told Queens Community Board 9 Tuesday that it was not the Parks Department that placed the sign there, a spokeswoman told DNAinfo New York Wednesday that the sign had been placed there "as a backing" to support the historical sign, which was thinner than regular signs and needed the backing in order to be affixed to the post. Some time ago the historical sign was removed or fell off, exposing the “see no evil” sign, she said.

It was unclear why the agency had the sign, but it was something the department had in its possession, the spokeswoman said. She said a new sign with the park's name had replaced the board by Wednesday.

The tiny park sandwiched between Queens Boulevard, Kew Gardens Road, Union Turnpike and 80th Road was dedicated to late Queens County District Attorney Richard Newcombe in Oct. 1939, according to a bronze plaque at the square.

DNAinfo/Ewa Kern-Jedrychowska

The plaque describes Newcombe, who served as Queens DA from 1924 to 1929, as "a distinguished citizen and public official who gave himself unselfishly to the advancement of good government and the welfare of youth.” 

Newcombe, who lived in Kew Gardens, later became a judge, according to A Picture History of Kew Gardens, a website about the neighborhood.