Grand Army Plaza Improvements – Brooklyn NY

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Description

A Department of Parks press release from March 17, 1935 describes the extensive improvements made to Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza with New Deal support:

“The Grand Army Plaza, constituting the main entrance to Prospect Park, Brooklyn, is to be completely rebuilt by the Department of Parks.

The general design will remain unchanged but the promenade around the Bailey Memorial Fountain has been redesigned and the north entrances have been relocated away from the existing subway grating which is to be completely shielded by ground covering. The path around the oval is to be relocated somewhat nearer to the street to increase the planting area. This path will be shaded on either side by adequate plane trees. The promenade surrounding the fountain will be constructed of Belgian blocks with a flagstone border and will be enclosed by a low hedge. A decorative curbing about 6 inches higher than the promenade, will enclose the fountain and add to its setting.

The northern end of the oval is to be developed as a lawn banked on both sides with planting.

The dividing street panels east and west of the oval are to be regraded and planted with adequate trees. New street trees along the sidewalks, east and west, will provide additional shade where needed.”

Although these sources do not explicitly mention federal involvement in the park, federal funding for laborers, materials, architects, landscapers and engineers employed on Parks projects is acknowledged in about 350 press releases from 1934 to 1943. As researcher Frank da Cruz explains here, from these and further sources, it can be confidently stated that all New York City parks projects from 1934 to 1938 and almost all from 1939-1943 were completed in whole or in part with New Deal funding and/or labor. A December 1943 Parks Department press release summed up the massive amount of work accomplished on playgrounds alone with federal funding by the end of the New Deal era, saying, “In 1934 there were 119 playgrounds in the five boroughs, 67 of which have been reconstructed. There will be, with this new addition [of a playground on Brinckerhoff Avenue in Queens], 489 playgrounds in the park system.”

Given the date of this project, shortly before the WPA began, but after the CWA shut down in March 1934, this work was most likely supported by the Public Works Admistration (PWA), the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), or other agencies.

Source notes

NYC Parks - Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch
Wikipedia
Parks Monuments Conservation Crew Vintage Film, NYC Parks Site
Lowrey, Carol. 2008. A Legacy of Art: Paintings and Sculptures by Artist Life Members of the National Arts Club.
NYC Parks - Cooper Triangle

Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on September 4, 2016.

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Location Info


Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY

Coordinates: 40.67304541, -73.9699099

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