J. Hood Wright Park – New York NY

Description

This sizable park on Manhattan’s west side includes vistas of the Hudson River and of the George Washington Bridge. It was acquired by the city in 1925, and opened by the Department of Parks in 1935. The press release announcing the opening listed the park’s facilities as including “slides, swings, jungle gym, see-saws, horizontal ladders and bars, soft ball diamond, wading pool and two handball courts. The recreation building will include a playroom and two loggias. Floodlights will be installed for night use. Ten playground directors will supervise this three-acre playground.” The recreation building referred to was completed in 1937, and remains a distinctive feature of the park. It was described at the time as being “of granite construction with slate roof, the central section is of octagonal shape connected to rectangular wings by semi-circular loggias; the building contains a comfort station for men and women, a mother’s room, a large play-room and a director’s room.”

Although these sources do not explicitly mention federal involvement in the park, researcher Frank da Cruz explains here that almost all New York City Parks Department projects between 1934 and 1943 were accomplished with New Deal funds and/or labor. Federal funding for laborers, materials, architects, landscapers and engineers employed on Parks projects is acknowledged in about 350 press releases from 1934 to 1943.  A December 1943 Parks Department press release summed up the massive amount of work accomplished on playgrounds alone with federal funding in 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.”

Several New Deal agencies were involved in parks projects: the Civil Works Administration (CWA)(1933-34), the Public Works Administration (PWA), the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) (renamed the Work Projects Administration in 1939). After its launch in April 1935, the WPA quickly became the main source of relief funds and labor for the NYC Parks Department. Thus, while the WPA could not have been involved in the work done on this park before the dedication ceremony in April 1935, it was most likely responsible for the park’s further development, including the erection of the octagonal recreation building.

The park recently underwent extensive renovation and improvements and continues to be an important focal point for the neighborhood.

Source notes

Department of Parks, Press Release, 
Department of Parks, Press Release, 
New York City Parks Department New Deal Projects 1934-43
J. Hood Wright Park - NYC Parks

Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on August 23, 2016.

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Location Info


W. 173rd St. and Fort Washington Ave.
New York, NY 10033

Coordinates: 40.846348, -73.941304

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