Photo: Google Maps - Click to enlarge.
Central Park's Great Lawn
. In 1934 it was the site of the Lower
Reservoir that had recently been drained only to become a
“Hooverville” of people left unemployed and homeless by the
Great Depression. By the end of 1936
Photo: UPI 1931.
the Parks Department, with CWA funding and labor (initially, but probably
WPA starting in 1935), transformed it into today's Great Lawn, featuring 8
ball fields and promenade around the perimeter.
- Rosenzweig, Roy, and Elizabeth Blackmar, The Park and the People: A History of Central Park, Cornell University Press
(1992), pp.449-451: “Moses now set a vast number of laborers, most of
them paid by federal relief programs, to work on the reservoir site.
By the summer of 1934, he had opened one of the two playgrounds; two years
later, the Great Lawn was essentially completed.”
Report of the Department of Parks to August 1934: Memorandum on 1935
Budget Request of the Department of Parks, NYC Department of Parks archive.
“Since January 19th of this of year the Department of Parks has spent
$26,000,000.00 on new construction from Work Relief funds ... New
construction projects include ... Complete new zoos will be finished in
Central Park... The sheepfold in Central Park has been converted into a
modern tavern ... The lower reservoir area in Central Park will be rebuilt
and opened to the public...”
- New York City Parks
Department press release, November 20, 1936, opening of a new playground
on the Great Lawn, plus: “The center of the Great Lawn area is
developed into a tree-studded oval meadow surrounded by a promenade
connected with the adjacent park path system. In the lower end, just north
of the 79th Street transverse road, and at the foot of the rocky prominence
upon which the Belvedere stands, is a new two-acre lake, the sloping banks
of which have been planted with Japanese cherry trees and other flowering
shrubs. Another playground for small children in the northwest corner of
the Great Lawn was completed and opened in the summer of 1934.”
- New Deal Assistance in
NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43.