Sara D. Roosevelt Park
The Sara Delano Roosevelt Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side was named after F.D.R.’s mother. The NYC Parks Department website reports:
“The parkland was acquired by the City in 1929 for the purpose of widening Chrystie and Forsythe Streets and building low-cost housing but was later set aside for “playgrounds and resting places for mothers and children.” The construction of the park in 1934 was the largest park project on the Lower East Side since the acquisition of Tompkins Square Park a century earlier. Parts of four streets were closed (Hester, Broome, Rivington, and Stanton) to accommodate seven distinct play areas with separate playgrounds for boys and girls, as well as two wading pools, a roller skating rink and a perimeter of benches and shade trees.
The dedication ceremonies on September 14, 1934 demonstrated the Lower East Side’s reverence for Mrs. Roosevelt and its jubilant reception of “America’s finest playground.”
The August 1934 press release announcing the opening noted that it was one of 38 playgrounds, “completely equipped with modern recreational facilities, which have been added to the park system during a period of four months by the new administration.” Although these sources do not explicitly mention federal involvement in the park, federal funding for laborers, materials, architects, landscapers and engineers employed on Parks projects is acknowledged in about 350 press releases from 1934 to 1943. As researcher Frank da Cruz explains here, from these and further sources, it can be confidently stated that from 1934 to 1938 all New York City parks projects were completed in whole or in part with New Deal funding and/or labor, except in the rare cases where the Parks Department information explicitly says otherwise. Given the early date of this park project, the CWA most likely played an important role in its development. From 1935 on, the WPA became the primary agency involved in NYC park development. A December 1943 Parks Department press release summed up the massive amount of work accomplished on playgrounds alone with federal funding by the end of 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.”
New York City Parks Department New Deal Projects 1934-43 Department of Parks, Press Release, August 22, 1934 Department of Parks, Press Release, September 12, 1934 Sara D. Roosevelt Park - NYC Parks
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on August 21, 2016.
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