Murray Playground, Long Island City
In Sept. 1941 the New York Times described a playground being constructed by the WPA in Queens at “Forty-Fifth Avenue and Twenty-first Street.” This site, Murray Playground, is still in use today.
New York City’s Parks Department writes: “The City of New York acquired the land that constitutes Murray Playground in four parts by purchase and condemnation between 1941 and 1945. The park stretches from 11th to 21st Street, and is bounded by 45th Avenue and 45th Road.”
A 1942 Department of Parks press release announcing the park’s opening describes the work done by the WPA:
“A wide mall, lined with benches and trees in block paved panels, divides the area into two main fence enclosed sections. Gate controlled entrances are provided at each end of this mall leading to the centrally located brick comfort station and plaza… East of the comfort station and centered, on the plaza a World’s Fair “Court of Communications” flagpole has been erected. A large wading pool centered in the east half of the playground is flanked by apparatus areas for kindergarten and school-age children… The western half of the playground is a large bituminous surfaced open play area designed for many uses including roller skating, ice skating, basketball and other group games… The work was performed by the Work Projects Administration from plans prepared by the Department of Parks. In 1934 there were 119 playgrounds in the five boroughs, 65 of which have been reconstructed. There are now with these three additions 474 playgrounds in the park system.”
As a WPA playground in New York City, this is one of hundreds of playgrounds constructed by the Parks Department with federal funding. Based on press releases in the New York City Parks Department archives, researcher Frank da Cruz explains here that almost all New York City Parks Department projects were accomplished with New Deal funds for laborers, materials, architects, landscapers and engineers. In a 1939 study, The Works Progress Administration in New York City (pp. 101-102), future Columbia University professor John Millett describes deep WPA involvement in particular: “The city Parks Department planned all work-relief activities in city parks and decided what work should be carried out at any one time. All projects and jobs were, of course, approved by the W.P.A., which furnished the labor and much of the supplies for the work.”
In 1948, this playground was named after John F. Murray, “a lifetime Queens resident and a dedicated recreation supervisor for Queens parks for many years.” (nycgov)
"Central Park Area to Be Improved For Benefit of Harlem Residents", New York Times, Sept. 22, 1941 Murray Playground - www.nycgovparks.org Department of Parks Press Release, July 10, 1942 Millett, John D., The Works Progress Administration in New York City, Public Administration Service, Chicago (1939)
Project originally submitted by Evan Kalish on April 15, 2014.
We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.SUBMIT MORE INFORMATION OR PHOTOGRAPHS FOR THIS SITE