James J. Walker Park
James J. Walker Park was improved and extended circa 1935 with the help of the New Deal. The agency involved in funding and completing the work is unknown to the Living New Deal. During the 1930s Robert Moses used New Deal funding and labor, yet he rarely credited New Deal agencies. New Deal plaques in New York parks are rare. For a detailed discussion see, Kermit Project, New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43.
The NYC Parks site describes the origins of the park: “Bordered by Hudson Street, Clarkson Street, St. Luke’s Place, and the Carmine Street Recreation Center, James J. Walker Park has a colorful history to match the vivid life of its namesake. From 1812 to 1895, the land served as St. John’s Cemetery, the burial ground of Trinity Church. Parks acquired the land in 1895. Originally called St. John’s Park, the name changed to Hudson Park by 1896, for the bordering street to the west. Architects Carrere and Hastings provided an elegant park design, which included a sunken garden, lagoon, perimeter walk, and gazebo. In order to provide space for active recreation, a new playground open in 1903. A large, rectangular marble sarcophagus on the north side of the park, dedicated in 1834 to three fallen firemen, serves as the only reminder of the land’s former role as a cemetery.
Over the course of the past century, the park has evolved to serve the needs of its community. By 1935 a comfort station stood on the east end, a larger playground was sited atop the now-filled lagoon, and a baseball field dominated the west side. In 1946 the park was paved and a sandlot baseball diamond was built. In 1947 the City Council changed the name of the park to honor “Beau James,” whose family had moved to 6 St. Luke’s Place in 1886. The renovation of the playground in 1972 included the installation of slides, teeter-totters, benches, tire swings, a pipe tunnel, sand boxes, an arch climber, and a geodesic dome.”
Kermit Project, New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43 (https://kermitproject.org/newdeal/parksprojects.html#commentary), accessed May 9, 2018.
Kermit Project, New Deal sites in the Washington Square area of Manhattan, (https://kermitproject.org/newdeal/washingtonsquare/index.html), accessed May 9, 2018.
James J. Walker Park, (https://www.nycgovparks.org/parks/james-j-walker-park/history), accessed May 9, 2018.
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on May 12, 2018.
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