Originally known simply as the playground at 99 Thompson St., this was one of fourteen new playgrounds throughout New York to open in August, 1934. The labor and materials for all these playgrounds were provided by “Work Relief funds.” Given the timing, Relief funds mentioned most likely came at least partly from the CWA.
The Parks Department press release announcing the opening described this playground as containing: “Recreation building, a wading pool in the center of the play area, and[ the] usual apparatus for small children including sand tables, see-saws and slides. This is distinctly a playground for small children.”
At the time, the park was only 75 ft. x 95 ft.. In 1957, the Parks Department acquired adjacent space to the South and West and expanded the playground to its current size with significant redevelopment of the entire space. The playground is now named “Vesuvio” after the well known Italian bakery around the corner.
This small playground was only an early example of the New Deal’s extensive development of parks throughout New York City. 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 between 1934 and 1943 were accomplished with New Deal funds and/or labor. Federal funding for laborers, materials, architects, landscapers and engineers employed on Parks projects is acknowledged in about 350 press releases from 1934 to 1943. A December 1943 Parks Department press release stated that New Deal programs had created 370 new playgrounds in the five boroughs since 1934 and reconstructed 67 others.
Project originally submitted by Frank da Cruz on August 11, 2016.
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