St. Nicholas Park is a long stretch of park between Harlem and Manhattanville, reaching from 127th St. to 141st St. The park contains two playgrounds. The larger one at 129th St., known as St. Nicholas Playground, opened before the New Deal in 1931. A July 1934 Department of Parks press release announced the opening of a second playground at the opposite end of the park near 141st St.. When it opened, the 200 ft. by 60 ft. playground contained an “open pavilion, a comfort station and a wading pool which can be converted into a basketball court, and slides, jungle gyms, etc.”
In the press release, the 141st St. playground is also referred to as St. Nicholas Playground, but its location matches what is now known as the Arlington “Ollie” Edinboro Playground. It is named after “a Harlem native who dedicated his career to improving the lives of generations of New York City’s adolescents by teaching them basketball” (nycgovparks).
Labor and materials for the playground were “supplied thru Work Relief funds.” Given the early date, this most likely meant CWA funds, as researcher Frank da Cruz explains here. This was one of the first of what would eventually be 370 new playgrounds in New York constructed by New Deal agencies. Federal funding for laborers, materials, architects, landscapers and engineers employed on Parks projects is acknowledged in about 350 press releases from 1934 to 1943. Almost all New York City Parks Department projects between 1934 and 1943 were accomplished with New Deal funds and/or labor.
Arlington "Ollie" Edinboro Playground - nycgovparks.org Department of Parks Press Release, July 27, 1934 Department of Parks Press Release, December 20, 1943
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on August 14, 2016.
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