Williamsbridge Oval Park – Bronx NY

Project type: Parks and Recreation
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From 1934 to 1937, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) employed workers to construct Williamsbridge Oval in The Bronx’s Norwood neighborhood, one of the most diverse areas of the City. Researcher Frank da Cruz notes the WPA Classic Moderne Style of its recreation center that he tells us was “constructed from granite quarried and cut on the site by WPA workers.” He also points out that the park got it’s name because of its oval shape which is “inherited from the reservoir it replaced.”

Da Cruz goes on to explain that Oval Park was,

“Originally the site of Gun Hill Williamsbridge Reservoir, constructed in 1884-89, that supplied drinking water until 1919 and then served as a swimming hole until it was drained in 1925. It was converted into a park and playground in 1934-37 in a 1.5 millon-dollar New Deal Works Progress Administration project, opening on September 11, 1937, with renovations since then, most recently in 2010-2013. It includes playgrounds for children, a field for football and soccer games, basketball courts, tennis courts, a 400-meter running track, wading pools and sprinklers, dog runs, picnic areas, benches; trees, grass, and foliage; elevated promenades around the perimeter, and a recreation center with a gym, game room, computer room, and public restrooms. It is also the site of school outings, cultural events, picnics, festivals, and just hanging out; it is perhaps the most heavily (and well) used public space in the Bronx.”

Oval Park’s 80th anniversary is coming up on September 11, 2017.

Source notes

Williamsbridge Oval

New York Times, April 4, 1934: 2 Reservoir Sites to Serve as Parks; Abandoned Land in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan Is Offered by Davidson.

NYC Department of Parks Press Release, September 10, 1937

Williamsbridge Playground news release, NYC Department of Parks, February 12, 1938.

NYC Parks: Williamsbridge Oval

Soll, David, "Empire of Water: An Environmental History of the New York City Water Supply, Cornell University Press (2013)

New York City Parks Photo Archive: Williamsbridge Oval, Bronx

Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on June 1, 2014.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

Williamsbridge Oval
Bronx, NY 10467

Coordinates: 40.8779125, -73.8775575

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