Jackie Robinson Park , People Lounging on the Stairs
The spacious Jackie Robinson Park in Harlem, originally called Colonial Park and known for many years as Bradhurst Park, first opened in 1911, but was only fully developed under the New Deal. When the Department of Parks announced the planned reconstruction in August 1935, they gave an unusual level of detail about this important project:
“The Department of Parks has determined the location and completed the development plan of a major recreational center in Harlem. For over a year the Department has been searching this section of the city for an area large enough to provide space for the active play and recreation which it is providing in other neighborhoods, and which Harlem lacks. No area large enough to accommodate all the units required and at a price the city could pay could be assembled. It was decided to convert Colonial Park from its present informal plan into a park for active play…”
The release went on to explain that a ten block long promenade would be constructed along one edge of the park, an outdoor swimming pool and gymnasium between 145th and 147th Streets, a “music shell” would be built into one wing of the bathhouse, the “existing comfort station at 149th Street will be renovated and enlarged into a play house,” the park’s largest meadow would be prepared for field sports, three playgrounds and a wading pool would be built, and the entire space would be landscaped. The release concluded: “Harlem will have a complete athletic center equal to any planned for any neighborhood in the city… Construction will be started this summer with relief forces. The park will not be closed to the public during reconstruction.”
These developments were designed by Parks architect Aymar Embury II and carried out by the WPA.
On October 15, 1937, Parks announced the opening of the last of the three playgrounds mentioned above: “The Colonial Park Playground has been planned for small children and is equipped with swings, see-saws, slides, jungle gyms, playhouses and sand tables. The permanent benches and trees placed in this new area form a part of the general landscape scheme of this ten-block recreational park. Other units at this park already open to the public include the swimming pool and bath house, dance floor and band shell, and two additional playgrounds lying to the north of the one to be opened this evening.”
Today, NYC Parks describes this park as a “Harlem jewel.”
Department of Parks, Press Release, August 9, 1935. Department of Parks, Press Release, October 15, 1937. NYC Parks - Jackie Robinson Park
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on September 13, 2016.
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