Oval Park, Norwood, Bronx, New York City, winter 2012. Its formal
name is Williamsbridge Oval Playground. Originally the site of Gun Hill
Williamsbridge Reservoir, constructed in 1884-89, that supplied drinking
water until 1919 and then served as a swimming
hole until it was drained in 1925. It was converted
into a park and playground in 1934-37 in a 1.5 millon-dollar
Progress Administration (WPA) project, opening on September 11, 1937, with
renovations since then, most recently in 2010-2013. It includes playgrounds for children,
Click below to view a gallery of photos from the 1920s and 1930s...
Abandoned Land in the Bronx and Upper Manhattan
Is Offered by Davidson, New York Times, April 4, 1934:
“Two city reservoirs unused for fifteen years, one in Manhattan and
the other in the Bronx, have been offered to Park Comissioner Robert Moses
to be used as park sites, Maurice P. Davidson, Commissioner of Water Supply,
Gas and Electricity, announced yesterday. ... The 13.1 acres of the
Williamsbridge Reservoir, just south of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx,
might best be drained and used for park and playground purposes, in
Mr. Davidson's opion. The reservoir is forty-one feet deep.” This
Times article is cited by
Wikipedia as the source for its claim that the reservoir was originally
a natural lake but the Times article says no more about Williamsbridge
Reservoir than what is quoted here.
New 20-Acre Playground Opened in Bronx,
New York Times, September 12, 1937:
This article affirms the creation of Oval Park by the WPA:
”...the Park Department obtained control of the site on June 27, 1934.
Since then ... about $1,500,00 [sic] has been spendt [sic] in buildng up the
new facilities. The job was done as a WPA project.” The opening
ceremony was presided over by Park Commissioner Robert Moses, Bronx Borough
President James J. Lyons, and Captain Howard L Peckham, deputy Works
Progress (WPA) administrator.
FDR's New Deal designed, constructed, and/or paid for a great many Bronx
landmarks besides Oval Park, including the Triborough Bridge, Orchard Beach,
the Bronx County Courthouse, much of what is now Lehman College, the
Maritime College campus at Fort Schuyler, Van Cortlandt Stadium, the Crotona
Park pool and bathhouse, the Bronx General Post Office, plus many
neighborhood post offices and numerous schools, parks, playgrounds, murals,
mosaics, sculptures, infrastructure improvements, surveys, and on and on.
for a partial list and HERE for a gallery.