Bronx New Deal Projects

Frank da Cruz, June 2014
Most recent update: Mon Jun 29 16:01:16 2015

Imagine a time when millions of people were out of work and the government, recognizing that Wall Street and the big banks and corporations were the problem and not the solution, took the initiative and did what the private sector would not do and created jobs for the unemployed: building roads, highways, bridges, tunnels, levees, dams, aqueducts, water mains, power houses, reservoirs, water filtration plants, power grids, airports, sewage treatment plants, municipal buildings, libraries, post offices, public housing, schools, colleges, universities, dormitories, athletic fields, stadiums, auditoriums, coliseums, memorials, museums, clinics, hospitals, laboratories, sanitariums, community centers, markets, zoos, parks, playgrounds, recreation centers, swimming pools, bathhouses, beaches, ports, piers, wharves, lighthouses, warehouses, grain elevators, hotels... Even the United States Mint at San Francisco, the gold depository at Fort Knox, and the Washington DC Mall: a legacy that we enjoy and depend upon to this day without knowing how it all came to be. It was called the New Deal and it was happening all over the United States on a scale inconceivable today. This page shows only a few of the New Deal projects in just one part of one city: Bronx, New York. What you see here is the living legacy of a government that put economic justice and the public good before corporate interests. The same thing is possible today, yet unthinkable. Why? And what, therefore, will be the legacy of our generation?

[Continue reading below] [See list of Bronx projects] [See list of NYC projects] Also see: [Randall's Island] [The New Deal Lives On]
  (Click on any photo to enter)

Williamsbridge Oval Park

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Lehman College Campus

10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23

Orchard Beach

24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56

Triborough Bridge

57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85

Crotona Park

86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109

Bronx General Post Office

110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120

Van Cortlandt Stadium

121 122

Van Cortlandt Park Southwest Playground

123 124 125

Bronx County Courthouse

126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142

Joyce Kilmer Park

143 144 145 146 147 148 149

Harris Field

150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158

Jerome Park Reservoir Gate Houses

159 160 161 162 163

Pedestrian Bridge to Bronx Park at 204th Street

164 165

Claremont Park

166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183

Macombs Dam Park Playground

184 185 186 187 188 189

Bronx Park North

190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209

Rosewood Playground

210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217

French Charley's Playground

218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227

Allerton Ballfields

228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238

Bailey Playground

239 240 241 242 243 244

Mosholu Baseball Field (Frank Frish Field)

245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254

IND Subway B and D Trains

255 256 257 258

Devoe Park

259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266

St. James Park

267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287

227th Street Playground

288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295

Olinville Playground

296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304

Owen F. Dolen Park

305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313

SUNY Maritime College

314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345

The Bronx-Whitestone Bridge

346 347 348

Waring Playground

349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356

Reiss Field

357 358 359 360 361 362

Zimmerman Playground

363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371

Pelham Parkway bicycle path

372 373 374 375

Garrison Playground

376 377 378 379

Peoples Park

380 381 382 383 384 385 386

St. Mary's Park

387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406 407 408 409 410 411 412 413 414

The Macombs Dam Bridge

415 416

The Willis Avenue Bridge

417 418

The New Deal Lives On

419 420 421 422 423 424 425 426 427 428 429 430 431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 442 443 444 445 446 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 456 457 458 459 460 461 462 463 464 465 466 467 468 469 470 471 472 473 474 475 476 477 478 479 480 481 482 483 484 485 486 487 488


The Introduction to The Bronx It Was Only Yesterday 1925-1965 by Lloyd Ultan and Gary Hermalyn (Bronx County Historical Society, 1992) includes this passage:
The New Deal's programs were on everyone's minds in the late 1930s. So many people we knew had the misfortune to be out of work and on, what was then called, home relief. For a father to have a job with the Works Progress Administration, or WPA, repaving the many streets or building new projects in The Bronx, was a stroke of good luck. With a steady income he could provide clothes and food for his family, and further, had the dignity of saying that he worked for what he got. Indeed those few years before the onset of the Second World War, The Bronx seemed to be in a frenzy of construction...

A frenzy of construction indeed! In the Bronx we are surrounded by New Deal projects without even knowing it. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal designed, constructed, and/or paid for a great many Bronx landmarks including the ones you see above, plus numerous neighborhood post offices, public schools, and playgrounds, countless murals (such as these), sculptures, maps, surveys, renovations, and infrastructure improvements all over the Bronx, including in the Botanical Garden and Zoo, not to mention an ongoing schedule of public concerts, plays, puppet shows, swimming lessons, and contests. I have a more complete list of projects in this table.

But during the Depression the New Deal was so busy getting things done that (as far as I know) it never got around to leaving behind a definitive and comprehensive list of everything that all of the “alphabet soup” New Deal agencies (WPA, PWA, CWA, NRA, REA, AAA, CCC, NYA, TVA, RFC, TERA, FERA...) accomplished. Something that would demonstrate what could be accomplished today if the government had a sense of history. Or decency.

In 2005 a project was launched at the University of California at Berkeley to assemble just such a compendium: The Living New Deal. It's not an easy task because modern corporate America has made considerable efforts to erase all memory of the New Deal. In most cases the plaques identifying New Deal projects have been removed or replaced or (in the case NYC Parks Department, never existed at all), and many texts fail to mention New Deal funding, design, or labor when discussing the many landmarks that were, in fact, created by the New Deal.

For my part, I'm just starting to discover, identify, research, photograph, and document some of the New Deal projects in the Bronx. This page is kind of a feeder for the Living New Deal project, where you can find a preliminary list of Bronx New Deal Projects.

For other New Deal projects in New York City, see this page for Manhattan; this page for Queens; this one for Brooklyn; and this one for Staten Island. It's an impressive list: LaGuardia Airport, the Lincoln Tunnel, the Queens Midtown Tunnel, the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, Henry Hudson Parkway, East River Drive, Riverside Park, the Tavern On The Green, and the 1939 World's Fair grounds to name a few. In this page, I have compiled a list of more than 500 New York City Parks Department projects that were carried out with New Deal funding and/or labor in the five boroughs.

[The Living New Deal [New Deal slide show


Created by Photogallery 2.05 June 29, 2015