In the late 17th century, the plot was a farm owned by Trinity Church. The square in its current form was officially dedicated in 1945 in concert with the renaming of Sixth Avenue to the Avenue of the Americas "in celebration of Pan-American unity". In 1975 benches, trees and sidewalks were added to the square. On May 26, 1977, control of the square was transferred from the New York State Department of Transportation to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. In 1978, the Consulate of the Dominican Republic dedicated a statue of Juan Pablo Duarte in the square. The dedication took place on the 165th birthday of Duarte, who was one of the founding fathers of the Dominican Republic. Italian sculptor Nicola Arrighini designed the thirteen-foot bronze figure, which today rests atop an eight-foot granite base. This statue is one of a group of six other monuments to Latin American leaders throughout the Avenue of the Americas.
To the immediate west of Duarte Square, across a one-block stretch of Sullivan Street that is now closed to traffic, is a plot also known as Duarte Square. This plot is owned primarily by Trinity Wall Street (a parish of the Episcopal Diocese of New York), and is fenced off and leased for a non-profit arts program known as LentSpace. This plot was targeted by the Occupy Wall Street organization as a new campsite. On December 17, 2011, after demonstrating in Duarte Park and marching on the streets surrounding the park, occupiers climbed over and under the fence. Police responded by arresting about 50 demonstrators, including at least one Episcopal bishop.