Bronx New Deal - Photo #683 - Bronx Park Trojan Courts

    Enlarge
trojan1
Image: Google Maps.
Trojan Courts on the east side of Bronx Park near Brady Avenue, in the area enclosed by Boston Road to the north, the Bronx River Parkway to the west (which separates the public part of Bronx Park from the Bronx Zoo grounds), and Bronx Park East, Unionport Road, and Birchall Avenue on the east, and Ranaqua Bronx Park headquarters on the south. The nearby avenues are Lydig, Brady, and Bronxdale. This area includes the Trojan baseball fields (named after the Bronx Trojans, a 1930s amateur baseball team), the Trojan Courts (game courts), Brady Playground, and Ben Abrams (formerly Lydig) Playground.

Records of specific projects in this area are scant; we have only the May 4, 1936, press release[1] from which it is clear that a baseball field was built on the site in 1936, and that more facilities were scheduled to be built. Reference 2 explains why this is a New Deal project, even though New Deal funding and labor are not credited in the press release. In any case, Reference 3 implicates the Works Progress Administration in the project.

The “courts” themselves are those at the bottom of the picture. There were originally six tennis courts, one basketball court, and four handball courts, but now it's just basketball and handball.

While Trojan Field figures prominently in memoirs of the old days, the name seems to mostly fallen out of official use today. I couldn't find any signs with the word Trojan. The second passage below, however, confirms the location of Trojan Field:

  • During WWII being at Trojan Field in Bronx Park in the evening and watching the Army encampment there shine their huge searchlight on the girls coming down the walk instead of searching for enemy aircraft.[4]

  • Matteo and Rose Torrio lived in the apartment that Rose's parents moved into as immigrants. It was a claustrophobic one bedroom on Unionport Road. The only saving grace was Bronx Park and Trojan Field across the street. Eddie's bedroom was the foyer of the apartment. As a result, he grew up with little privacy and few possessions. A Castro Convertible served as his bed.[5]
From the scarce evidence I've been able to locate, I would conclude that:
  • At least one, and probably both, of the ball fields were built by the Depression-Era Parks Department, meaning by the WPA with Parks supervision.
  • The game courts (formerly tennis, now basketball) were in service by 1938[6], thus were subsequent units “of [the same] active recreational development...”[1]
  • Of the two playgrounds, Brady and Abrams (formerly Lydig), there is no history at all in the Parks Department press releases or in the historical matter on its present-day website that says when they were built. However, I'd say that since WPA crews were so busy in this area in 1936-38, and since they built so many other playgrounds in Bronx Park during the same period, it is not unreasonable to assume they built these two as well.

References:

  1. NYC Parks Dept press release of May 4, 1936: “In Bronx Park, south of the intersection of Boston Road and Pelham Parkway, a baseball field has been constructed as the first unit of an active recreational development...”
  2. New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43.
  3. Bronx Park: Trojan Courts, NYC Parks Department website.
  4. Random Memories of Youth (a blog on Wordpress.com).
  5. Wasserman, Alan, The Passover Pugilist
  6. NYC Parks Dept press release of March 26, 1938, which refers to 6 hard-surface tennis courts in Bronx Park at Brady Avenue and Bronx Park East.
The New Deal in NYC 1932-1943 | Frank da Cruz | fdc@columbia.edu