Williams Playground – Bangor ME

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A small park in Bangor with playground equipment, a basketball court and non functioning tennis court with plans to convert it into a Pickleball court. When constructed by the WPA as part of their comprehensive city-wide work program it originally contained a tennis court, concrete wading pool, playground area, baseball diamond and football field.

According to various people who grew up in Bangor, the playground was a very important part of their lives and memories. “We always called it Newberry St. Park. Had a lot of fun there.” “My Dad’s family, the Burke’s lived on Gridley St. and he (Bobby Burke) played there as a kid, then later when we visited Grammy we would play in this park too.” “That was my neighborhood park while growing up on York St. Had a lot of good times at Newbury St. Park.” ” I grew up on Gridley St. 1970’s and played in that park as a kid. I remember sliding down that hill in the winter & spending a lot of time during the summer many great memories!” “It was something as a kids we looked forward to.” “I played there as a kid in the 50s and 60s.” “In the 70s, we would plug the drain on the wading pool to make the water deep.” “Yea , it sure had all that, know it well, was a second home….”

First mention of the project is in the 1937 town report, begun in the first week of September. According to the Bangor Commercial Newspaper, the WPA contributed $16,697 and work would commence as soon as airport work was finished and 60 men could be transferred. Construction was not completed until 1939 which elicited a complaint from councilman James Wallace about the slowness of construction. In response WPA director John Fitzgerald shut down all work programs until a quick apology by Mr. Wallace continued the construction. Total cost of construction was $59,000. Ceremonies were held July 6th, 1939 and the park was dedicated to deceased WW1 veteran James William. Most of the city government and thousands of citizenry attended. Maine PWA head Fitzgerald spoke on the numerous accomplishments of the WPA in the city.

For details on the Williams Park dedication in 1939, see Laverdeire (2019).

Project Details

Federal Cost Local Cost Total Cost Project #'s

Source notes

Andrew Laverdiere, 2019, "Williams Park Dedication As reported in the Bangor Daily News July 6, 1939," Economics For Humans, (https://historiandrew.wordpress.com/2020/01/08/williams-park-dedication-as-reported-in-the-bangor-daily-news-july-6-1939/).

Bangor town reports:

"New City Playground Opened," Bangor Daily News, July 6, 1939.

Bangor Parks (https://www.bangorparksandrec.com/info/facilities/details.aspx?FacilityID=8706), accessed November 2019.

An old photograph of two children in the wading pool (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=1310373259096669&set=gm.1994434720575453&type=3&eid=ARBfLhPl8pZrRkx7sAAJDl9aYtYLDcyyB_3j9TMBpaNV7FsQP7EcyNe5QkDabx8SNJrWEEhESWC8uGH8&ifg=1), accessed November 2019.

Facebook post about playground dedication and comments (https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2407032066176005&set=pcb.2776870265665224&type=3&ifg=1&__tn__=HH-R&eid=ARDbGargz8lnVECkYbBd2jECJ36E_gJS7_8slQUb3JqUVE3N__VTbxv2d8UlTHArtlgQwG9OTr-OV2yB), accessed November 2019.


Project originally submitted by Andrew Laverdiere on November 9, 2019.

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Location Info

57 Newbury St, Bangor, ME 04401
Bangor, me 04401

Coordinates: 44.8037648, -68.75980609999999

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