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 1890 to 1945...
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, the
Bronx-Whitestone 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. CLICK HERE for
a partial list and HERE for a gallery.