Central Park New Deal Sites - Photo #63 - The Great Lawn

Central Park Great Lawn
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[2]. By the end of 1936
Central Park Great Lawn 1931
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.


  1. 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.”
  2. The 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...”
  3. 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.”
  4. New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43.