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  • South Pacific Playground - Brooklyn NY
    On July 28, 1937, the Department of Parks announced the opening of "five playgrounds, constructed by the Department of Parks with relief labor and funds," noting that "These playgrounds are five of the twenty-four sites in neglected areas selected by the Commissioner of Parks and acquired by condemnation after authorization by the Board of Estimate and Apportionment on July 15, 1936." One of these five playgrounds was the South Pacific Playground. It is still extant. Although the 1937 press release does not mention which New Deal agencies were involved, researcher Frank da Cruz explains here that almost all New York City Parks...
  • St. Albans Park Playground - Jamaica NY
    The land for St. Albans Memorial Park in Queens was first acquired by Parks in 1914 and received its current name in 1932. A Department of Parks press release announced the opening of a new playground in St. Albans Park on July 17, 1934. At that time, the playground contained "facilities for softball and basketball, besides see-saws, swings, horizontal bars and ladders. Here too, benches and shade trees are part of the layout." Although the release does not mention the WPA or other New Deal agencies, researcher Frank da Cruz explains here that almost all New York City Parks Department projects...
  • St. Catherine's Park - New York NY
    In June 1941, the Department of Parks announced the completion of the reconstruction of the St. Catherine's Park playground in Manhattan: "This 1 1/3 acre recreation area is fenced in with a 6' chain link fence and bordered with rows of benches and shade trees. The easterly half of the area has been set aside for children and besides a large wading pool which can also be used as a volley ball court, it contains a sand pit, see saws, slides, swings, and a small sitting area for guardians of children. The westerly portion adjacent to the High School has two soft...
  • St. Mary's Park - Bronx NY
    "St. Mary's Park, the largest park in the southeast Bronx, bounded by East 149th Street, St. Ann's Avenue, St. Mary's Street, and Jackson Avenue, June 22, 2015. This park was totally reconstructed by the WPA at the same time as Crotona Park, and reopened in October 1941. The Parks Department press release of October 13, 1941, says: St. Mary's Park consisting in large part of steep and rocky terrain had fallen into a state of shabbiness and disrepair owing to hard usage, outmoded design and erosion due to failure of old drainage systems. The large size of the area made it...
  • St. Mary's Playground - Brooklyn NY
    St. Mary's Playground in stretches along Smith St. between Huntington St. and Nelson St., and Nelson St. and Luquer St. in Brooklyn. It sits at the border of three neighborhoods: Gowanus, Red Hook and Carroll Gardens. The NYC Parks site explains the origin of the playground: "The two parcels of land for this park were acquired by the New York Department of Transportation in 1934 as part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (1882-1945) Works Progress Administration’s urban revitalization initiative. Originally they were to be utilized for the new Gowanus Expressway (1941), but many in the community thought the land straddling...
  • St. Vartan Park - New York NY
    In late 1936, the Department of Parks announced the completion of a major reconstruction of what was then known as St. Gabriel's Park. Today's NYC Parks site further describes this work: "The park was reconstructed in 1936, and a playground, wading pool, roller skating track, and courts for handball, shuffleboard, and horseshoe pitching were added, as well as a field house and comfort station. In 1938, shortly after the park was renovated, part of the land was surrendered to the Board of Estimate. This was part of an agreement with the New York City Tunnel Authority to make way for an approach...
  • Stewart Park - Reno NV
    Stewart Park, formerly a city dump, was completed in 1937 through the Works Progress Administration (WPA).
  • Stoddert Recreation Center Improvements - Washington DC
    In 1942, the Washington Post reported the approval of $11,600 in funding for the Federal Works Agency (FWA) to make improvements and/or additions to Stoddert Playground – today's Stoddert Recreation Center. It is not certain what work was done, but the baseball field at the present Recreation Center has all the marks of a New Deal ball field and the Recreation Center building is possibly from the 1940s.
  • Strong Street Playground - Bronx NY
    Strong Street Playground is located within Old Fort Four Park next to the Jerome Park Reservoir. On June 13, 1941, the New York City Department of Parks announced "the completion, of work on the redesign of a play area on Reservoir Avenue between Strong Street and West 197th Street, he Bronx. This property was acquired by the Department of Parks in 1935, at which time it was graded and provided with see-saws and swings by relief workers. The current project represents an amplification of the original work. The area has been paved with a smooth bituminous surface to provide all...
  • Sunset Park - Brooklyn NY
    Sunset Park in Brooklyn was improved by the WPA in 1935 (when a small children's playground was added) and, more extensively, in 1940. A press release announced the completion of the later project: "In Sunset Park, the westerly portion located at Fifth Avenue, 41 to 42 Streets, has been redesigned and reconstructed. The new work consists of the rearrangement of new bituminous walks, curbs, concrete stairs, entrances, concrete walls, new overlooks, benches, chain link and wrought iron fencing, a small children's play area with sand pit and play apparatus, and a new modern comfort station. The opening of these park areas designed...
  • Taaffe Playground - Brooklyn NY
    This park in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn was built by the Department of Parks in 1934. The press release announcing its opening described the facilities as including "a general girls' play field a boys' play field, a wading pool, basketball court, and an area for outdoor playground apparatus. Handball courts are also provided for boys. A brick recreation building with toilet facilities and indoor playrooms is being constructed.” The NYC Parks site also says that several Pin oaks were planted "in the hope that they might provide much needed areas of shade in the future." Although these sources do not...
  • Thomas Greene Playground - Brooklyn NY
    When the Department of Parks first developed a playground at Degraw and 3rd Ave. in 1935, it was leasing the property from a private owner. A press release announced the 1935 opening along with the opening of six other playgrounds, one of which was attended by WPA administrator Harry Hopkins. The City of New York formally acquired the property in 1938 and soon opened a larger, more developed playground on the site "occupying the entire block bounded by Douglass Street, DeGraw Street, Nevins Street and Third Avenue." The press release announcing the opening on October 8, 1939 explained: "This playground, planned to accommodate...
  • Thomas Jefferson Park - New York NY
    The land for Thomas Jefferson Park park was first purchased in 1897, but was greatly expanded in the 1930s under Commissioner Robert Moses. In September 1935, Moses and Mayor LaGuardia oversaw the opening of the north playground, "equipped with a wading pool, two soft ball diamonds, a roller skating track, play houses, seesaws, jungle gyms, etc."  The south portion of the park opened two months later, including at least some of the following: baseball, basketball, bocci, handball or horse shoe courts, and jungle gyms, swings, slides, playhouses, sand tables, see-saws, shuffle board courts, and  wading pools. In December 1936, Parks...
  • Thomas P. Noonan Playground - Woodside NY
    This small park in Queens was acquired by the City in December 1936. Less than a year later, in October 1937, Parks announced the opening of a new playground on the site: "he new playground is equipped with swings, see-saws, slides; playhouses, horizontal bars and ladders. A rectangular wading pool which is encircled by an oval shaped roller skating track, handball courts and a large play area for soft ball games, have also been provided. Shade trees which have been planted around the perimeter of the entire area and permanent concrete benches complete the design." Although the 1937 press release does not...
  • Tompkins Square Park - New York NY
    This sizeable Manhattan park has served as a recreational space since the early 19th century. In the 1930s it was redesigned under Parks commissioner Robert Moses. On October 1, 1936 Parks announced that the: "north half of the park from Ninth to Tenth Streets between Avenues A and B has been redesigned and reconstructed and includes basket ball, volley ball, shuffle board, paddle tennis and horse-shoe pitching courts; complete play apparatus and e wading pool." Although the press release announcing the completion of this work does not mention the WPA or other New Deal agencies, researcher Frank da Cruz explains here that...
  • Twin Oaks Playground Improvements - Washington DC
    The field house at Twin Oaks Playground was constructed by the Civil Works Administration (CWA) relief crews in 1933-34. The playground itself dates to 1920.  Originally a "white" playground in Washington’s segregated playground system, Twin Oaks was officially opened to all children in 1953. The 1-½ story field house follows the Colonial Revival design developed by municipal architect Albert L. Harris after the vernacular Hall-and-Parlor houses of the Tidewater region, a regionally appropriate style that was informal and good for recreation areas. In 1936, the Washington Post reported that Works Progress Administration (WPA) crews had also done work on the Twin Oaks Playground,...
  • University Park Development - Phoenix AZ
    The New Deal contributed to the development of University Park, a park in Phoenix, Arizona. The Public Works Administration (PWA) provided funding for numerous projects at the park (the 1930s projects noted below). NRHP nomination form: "University Park, an eight-acre park purchased by the City in 1921. The park was intended to be a district athletic area for the west side of Phoenix. A swimming pool was built in 1927." PWA-sponsored projects included the "bathhouse constructed in 1934 and a pumphouse ... built in 1936. Also in 1936, two tennis courts were built to augment two existing courts (the first public...
  • Unquity Road Playground - Milton MA
    W.P.A. project description: "Blue Hills Reservation at Unquity Road and Canton Avenue, Milton; to develop an area of eighteen acres for playground and skating use." The location and status of these facilities is unknown to Living New Deal.
  • Utopia Playground - Fresh Meadows NY
    In Sept. 1941 the New York Times described a playground being constructed by the WPA in Queens at "Utopia Parkway and Seventy-third Avenue." This site, Utopia Playground, is still in use today. New York City's Parks Department writes: "Utopia Playground was opened on January 1, 1942. Parks acquired the majority of the site, which was formerly the home of an old country school, on March 7, 1940. The remaining portion was obtained on January 7, 1941 by condemnation and immediately became part of the original Parks property. In 1943, Local Law 32 gave the playground its current name."
  • Van Asselt School Playground - Seattle WA
    The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (F.E.R.A.) worked to develop and improve the playground at Seattle's Van Asselt School. A photo at the U of Washington shows a field of stumps and clearing efforts with the caption "State of Wash., E.R.A. - K.C.D., Project # 508, Dec. 28, 1933, Neg. No 47; Van Asselt School playfield." The Van Asselt school was built on donated land from the late 19th century from an early settler Henry Van Asselt, Built in 1909 - 1950. Rebuilt in 1950 - 2000. Closed in 2000 and moved to the current school a few blocks south.
  • Van Nest Park Improvements - Bronx NY
    Researcher Frank da Cruz explains why this playground almost certainly benefited from New Deal programs. As the New York City Department of Parks website states, “In August of 1913, the City of New York acquired the parcel of land, bounded by White Plains Road, Unionport Road, and Mead Street, on which now sits. In April of 1922 the land was placed under Parks jurisdiction. By 1934, the triangular area around the monument contained Norway maple trees and a flagpole, all of which have subsequently been removed. In addition to the monument in honor of fallen soldiers, the park also...
  • Verde Park - Phoenix AZ
    The New Deal contributed to the development of Verde Park, a park in Phoenix, Arizona. The Public Works Administration (PWA) provided funding for numerous projects at the park. Per Arizona Republic: "The Phoenix city property at Ninth and Polk streets, formerly occupied by the city corral and various service departments of the city, will be turned into a beauty spot, with construction of sports grounds and playground equipment. The unsightly fence will be replaced by a modern one and the water standpipe will be painted. The improvements involve about $20,000." This development took place among a massive $923,000 Phoenix park improvement project...
  • Vernon Park Improvements and Slide - Newport RI
    In Newport, Rhode Island "the WPA built sidewalks and most of the stone walls, grandstands, concession buildings and other facilities in Newport’s public parks. Vernon Park, Freebody Park and Cardines Field are the most visible examples." At Vernon Park the WPA built an astounding stone "playground slide, complete with firehouse and chimney," at the park's northeast corner (on Vernon Ave.). It possibly also built the stone walls around the park's tennis courts.
  • Vesuvio Playground - New York NY
    Originally known simply as the playground at 99 Thompson St., this was one of fourteen new playgrounds throughout New York to open in August, 1934.  The labor and materials for all these playgrounds were provided by "Work Relief funds." Given the timing, Relief funds mentioned most likely came at least partly from the CWA. The Parks Department press release announcing the opening described this playground as containing: "Recreation building, a wading pool in the center of the play area, and usual apparatus for small children including sand tables, see-saws and slides. This is distinctly a playground for small children." At the time, the park...
  • Veterans Field - Wakefield MA
    Construction of Veterans Field was one of dozens of projects undertaken with federal labor at the beginning of the New Deal era during the 1930s. "In 1934, initial plans called for a skating/hockey rink, ball field, tennis court and a general playground, with the work to be performed by the Civil Works Administration (CWA) which later became the ERA, a program designed to 'give relief to needy people through direct work or work relief.' These work projects were later shifted to the Works Projects Administration (WPA). The North Avenue - Church Street project was one of 92 completed projects carried out...
  • Virginia Avenue Playground Improvements - Washington DC
    The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA) and the Civil Works Administration (CWA) funded improvements at the Virginia Avenue Playground in Washington DC. Today, the sire is called Virginia Avenue Park. The work consisted of the following improvements: CWA and FERA, 1933-1934, “Graded, fenced, running track 90 percent complete, old pavilion removed; roof reshingled, electric lights installed.” (Report of the Government of the District of Columbia 1935) FERA, 1934-1935, “Completed running track.” (Report of the Government of the District of Columbia 1936)
  • Volta Park Recreation Center - Washington DC
    The Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA), the Works Progress Administration (WPA), and the Civil Works Administration (CWA) completed improvements at the Georgetown Playground in Washington DC. Today, the playground is part of the Volta Park Recreation Center. The work consisted of the following improvements: “Graded, topsoil, fenced, 6 gates, remodeled interior of shelter house, new plumbing, wired for electric lights.” (Report of the Government of the District of Columbia 1935) FERA, 1934-1935, “Surfaced two tennis courts.” (Report of the Government of the District of Columbia 1936) WPA, 1935-1936, “2 tennis courts surfaced with clay.” (Report of the Government of the District of Columbia 1936) WPA, 1936-1937, “Constructed pool...
  • Washington Square Playgrounds Improvements - New York NY
    Washington Square playgrounds were improved during the 1930s with the help of the New Deal. In 1935, Robert Moses proposed a major renovation of the park but he encountered neighborhood opposition. The agencies involved in funding or completing improvement work are unknown to the Living New Deal. During his tenure as Parks Commissioner, Moses used New Deal funding and labor to build public park facilities, yet rarely credited the New Deal agencies that supported the projects. Because he prohibited the placement of New Deal plaques and corner stones, we have few sources that tie public parks in New York to...
  • Weeksville Playground - Brooklyn NY
    This small Brooklyn playground was opened by the Department of Parks in December 1935. The press release announcing the opening explained that it, and the other 12 playgrounds opened on the same day, collectively contained: "88 small swings; 72 large swings; 36 seesaws; 14 playhouses; 15 large slides; 11 sand tables; 10 garden swings; 7 small slides; 7 small tables; 6 handball courts; 6 jungle gyms; 5 shuffleboard courts; 5 wading pools; 4 parallel bars; 3 horizontal bars; 3 horizontal ladders; 3 horseshoe pitching, etc.; 2 basketball courts, 1 shower." As researcher Frank da Cruz explains here, almost all New York...
  • West Queen Anne Playfield Improvements - Seattle WA
    WPA workers completed several improvement projects at West Queen Anne Playfield between 1936 and 1939. The largest of these projects was the construction of a combination shelter house, grandstand, and baseball backstop near the intersection of West Blaine Street and 2nd Avenue West, at what was then the southwest corner of the playfield. Work on this one-story, concrete structure was completed in 1937. During the following year, WPA laborers painted the shelter house, regraded the baseball field, and added a new layer of top soil. This was followed in 1939 by the installation of a new water and drainage system,...
  • White Playground - New York NY
    A June 1936 press release announced the opening of a new playground at Lexington and 106th. It was equipped with "horseshoe pitching courts as well as an open play area for adult children." The NYC Parks site expands on the history of this park: "This small playground has been a part of the Harlem community since the early part of the twentieth century. The Italian Benevolent Institute was the first organization to operate a playground on this site. In 1936, the City of New York acquired a 0.52-acre plot of land from the Institute and transferred jurisdiction over the property to Parks....
  • William McCray Playground - New York NY
    From NYC Parks: "William McCray Playground is one of nine playgrounds that was built by the Parks Department through a war memorial fund, and was opened simultaneously on July 15, 1934. The War Memorial Fund of $250,000 was established in 1921 with monies collected by the Police Department, and by 1934 the fund—never spent—had grown in value to $350,000. Seeking additional open spaces for children, Parks Commissioner Robert Moses obtained a legal ruling which permitted use of the fund for playground development. Marked with a commemorative tablet, each property was to honor the memory of a soldier who gave his life...
  • William Sheridan Playground - Brooklyn NY
    NYC Parks' website explains that "The City purchased this land for park purposes in 1934, and Adolf A. Berle, Jr. signed the deed as trustee of the War Memorial Fund, which donated the playground in Sheridan’s name. One of nine memorial playgrounds, it was dedicated on July 15, 1934." This was one of nine playgrounds constructed with War Memorial and TERA funds in 1934.
  • Williams Playground - Bangor ME
    A small park in Bangor with playground equipment, a basketball court and non functioning tennis court with plans to convert it into a Pickleball court. When constructed by the WPA as part of their comprehensive city-wide work program it originally contained a tennis court, concrete wading pool, playground area, baseball diamond and football field. According to various people who grew up in Bangor, the playground was a very important part of their lives and memories. "We always called it Newberry St. Park. Had a lot of fun there." "My Dad's family, the Burke's lived on Gridley St. and he (Bobby Burke)...
  • Winter Playhouse - Tupper Lake NY
    In the 1930s the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) built this winter playground house in Tupper Lake, New York. The Living New Deal does not know the present status or exact location of this project.
  • World's Fair Playground - Queens NY
    On June 19, 1939, the Department of Parks announced the opening of two playgrounds in Flushing Meadows Park, one along the Grand Central Parkway, just south of Horace Harding Boulevard. This is most likely what is now known as the World's Fair Playground. The 1939 press release explained that: "These two recreation areas are part of the plan for the ultimate development of the park after the Fair is over and will provide recreation facilities for the present children of the adjacent communities and for an increase in population as additional housing develops around the park. In the playground near Horace Harding...
  • Zimmerman Playground - Bronx NY
    "Zimmerman Playground, a block east of Bronx Park on the south side of Britton Street between Barker and Olinville Avenues. One of nine War Memorial Playgrounds opened by Mayor LaGuardia on July 15, 1934. The Parks Department press release credits the 'Works Division of the Department of Public Welfare' for some of the labor. Beyond that, there is no mention of how the playgrounds were designed and built. But by the reasoning laid out here, it's almost inconceivable that federally-funded work relief was not involved. But in any case, the playground was expanded a few years later, as described in a...
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