Cuyahoga Valley National Park Development – Peninsula OH

Between 1933 and 1939, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) provided labor for the construction of the Virginia Kendall Park Reserve, now Cuyahoga Valley National Park (est. 2000), in Peninsula, Ohio during the Great Depression. 530 acres of land willed and transferred to the Akron Municipal Parks Board and under the leadership of Harold S. Wagner and F.A. Sieberling petitioned the CCC in August 1933 for a camp. It was granted and in December of that year Unit #576 arrived with 208 recruits first under the command of of Lt. JR Tobin and soon replaced by Captain AW Belden.

The CCC camp reconstructed the area and by the time it was disbanded in 1938 it had completed 3 shelters, 8 latrines, a dam which created Kendall Lake, a bathhouse, 17 footbridges, trails throughout, 40,000 gallon well, 600 foot toboggan slide, 208 tables and benches, graded and developed 5 acres of campground, moved over 15,000 plants and trees, and planted 122 acres of new trees.

Daughter of Coit Tower Artist Bernard Zakheim: Keep Tower Public!

Read Ruth Gottstein’s scathing editorial in the SF Examiner on the need to keep Coit Tower and public parks free and open to the public. Gottstein is the 92-year-old daughter of Coit muralist Bernard Zakheim. She brilliantly connects the recent viral video of children being forced off of a playground in SF because of its semi-privatization with long standing conflicts over Coit Tower as a free and public space. To quote:

… Coit Tower murals were also entirely free to the city of San Francisco, funded entirely by federal taxpayer funds through New Deal programs.


Coit Tower has not even had a private concession there selling souvenirs for most of its life, since it was simply created at Lillie’s direction in her will “to beautify the city I have always loved.” Given the will of the voters to preserve Coit Tower and keep it from becoming privatized or over-commercialized, I would hope that the Recreation and Park Department, the supervisors and the mayor will get together and find a wiser way to protect this national treasure instead of over-commercializing it.

Similarly, rather than exclude San Francisco children and families from public parks that were paid for with public funds to allow people of all ages to recreate and play, I hope the Recreation and Park Department will find better ways to manage our parks than trying to monetize them.

Alex Tarr is an assistant professor of Geography in the department of Earth, Environment and Physics at Worcester State University and member of the Living New Deal board of directors.

Riverside Park Bathhouse – Minneapolis MN

Shortly after the creation of Minneapolis’ park board in April 1883, the organization designated land for the future Riverside Park. Land was acquired by 1884 and the area was called Sixth Ward Park until 1885. Since then it has been called Riverside Park due to its position on the west bank of the Mississippi River.

Later additions and expansions included a toboggan slide, playground equipment, basketball hoops, skating rink, tennis courts, and wading pool.

The WPA[sic] completed a stone bathhouse in 1933 and built stone steps connecting the upper and lower levels of the park. As of fall 2013, the steps are overgrown and not used regularly.

[Note: the WPA was created in 1935. References to earlier WPA work are often refering to FERA or CWA projects]

Minnehaha Park Development – Minneapolis MN

Throughout the 1930s, CCC and WPA crews made extensive improvements to the already popular Minnehaha Park, site of Minnehaha Falls. Federal workers built impressive stone retaining walls throughout the 170-acre park, staircases from the upper park down to the creek, and bridges, all from native limestone.

Improvements have since been made to the park, including a Pergola Garden and most recently a river overlook and playground area. The stonework has remained largely intact, and the park continues to draw a steady stream of both locals and tourists.

Picnic Area, Brackenridge Park – San Antonio TX

Between 1938 and 1940 the WPA constructed 19 concrete and stone picnic tables, benches, and fire pits in Brackenridge Park. They are nestled among the trees along Tuleta Drive, just south of the Joske Pavilion. The concrete pads and stone water fountains were added at a later date.