Bryant Park – New York NY

Project type: Parks and recreation
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Description

Bryant Park was redesigned and rebuilt between 1933 and 1935 with the help of New Deal funding and Civil Works Administration labor. The project was supervised by the Parks Department, led at the time by Robert Moses. The central role of the New Deal in the reconstruction of the park has received little recognition, with most of the credit going to Moses’ Parks Department. Yet, New Deal support was substantial. Moses himself stated for the NewYork Times that “[…] the projects of 1934, with the exception of the parkways, were done almost entirely with relief labor,” mentioning the reconstruction of Bryant park as an important milestone of that year. In addition, funding for the park redesign came from the federal government, not the Parks Department. As noted in an essay published by Frank da Cruz in the Kermit Project, the park design and planting plan were created with the help of architect Aymar Embury II and landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, both paid by the federal government. For a detailed discussion see Frank da Cruz, Kermit Project, Bryant Park in Manhattan.

“[T]he entire park’s landscaping was raised four feet from street level; the park was bordered by granite walls and wrought-iron fences with stairways at the entrances; the interior was divided into a central green and periphery of shaded walkways and sitting areas; a massive stone fountain was moved from one end of the park to the other; a new infrastructure of power, lighting, drinking fountains, and drainage was installed; the old comfort station was rehabilited and reopened after being closed for decades.”

During his tenure as Parks Commissioner, Robert 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 New Deal agencies. However, several of Moses’ statements reveal that during the 1930s most of the financial support and labor for New York parks and Parks Department staff came from federal funding. For a detailed discussion see Frank da Cruz, Kermit Project, New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43

Source notes

Bryant Park in Manhattan, Frank da Cruz, Kermit Project, 2018, (http://kermitproject.org/newdeal/bryantpark/index.html), accessed May 17, 2018.

Bryant Park, (http://bryantpark.org/index.html), accessed May 9, 2018.

Kermit Project, New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43, (http://kermitproject.org/newdeal/parksprojects.html#commentary), accessed May 9, 2018.

"Parks Promises Kept", New York Times, 31 Dec 1934.

Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on May 18, 2018.

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Location Info


Bryan Park, 6th Avenue
New York NY, NY

Coordinates: 40.7547533, -73.9841713

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