When the recreation area in Seward Park first opened in 1903, it was “the first permanent, municipally built playground in the United States” (NYC Parks). The park was significantly redeveloped during the New Deal.
In April 1935, relief workers completed the reconstruction of the section of the park as a setting for the Jacob H. Schiff fountain, which had formerly been located in Rutgers Park.
On November 26, 1940, Parks announced the completion of a good deal of this work:
“This recreation area, one of the oldest and most extensively used in Manhattan, has been redesigned, reconstructed, and landscaped to provide wider all year round usage. Of the original layout, there remain only a fountain and walks along the Essex Street margin. In the center is a wading pool which may also be used for basketball. Flanking the wading pool on one side is a regulation basketball court, and on the other, play swings, slides and see-saws. On the Canal Street side is a completely equipped play area for small children containing slides, see-saws, play houses and a sand pit. On the north or Hester Street side, are recreation facilities such as horseshoe pitching and shuffleboard courts, a basketball court, and a large bituminous-surfaced open play area adaptable for roller skating, paddle tennis, and for ice skating when sub-freezing temperatures permit, for older children and adults.
Development of the southeast corner of the park fronting on Jefferson Street and Strauss Square will not be finished until a later date. Here a combined brick recreation building and comfort station is being erected to replace the old outmoded structure razed when reconstruction began. Adjacent to it will be a farm garden, where next spring school children will grow flowers and vegetables under the supervision of the Park Department.
The reopening of this playground designed by the Park Department and built by the Work Projects Administration, makes a total of 350 new or reconstructed playgrounds completed since January, 1934.”
The recreation building mentioned was completed in 1941.
The park is still in active use and was further renovated in 1999.
Department of Parks, Press Release, November 26, 1940 Department of Parks, Press Release, June 5, 1941 NYC Parks - Seward Park New York City Parks Department New Deal Projects 1934-43 Department of Parks, Press Release, April 1, 1935
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on December 5, 2016.
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