Bronx New Deal - Photo #424 - Belmont Playground

Image: Google Maps, accessed 21 October 2017.
Belmont Playgound in Bronx NY is bounded on three sides by East 182nd Street, Crotona Avenue, and Belmont Avenue. This is one of five playgrounds "constructed by the Department of Parks with relief labor and funds" opened by Mayor LaGuardia on Friday, July 30th, 1937 (the ceremony was held at a playground in Woodside, Queens). Originally the Park was ¾ acre, consisting mainly of a roller-skating track and play apparatus.[1]

Later additional land was acquired. Construction began in early December 1941 to enlarge the the park to 2¼ acres, and to add sufficient play facilities for the entire neighborhood and its schools, including a planned new West Bronx Vocational High School. 21 buildings were demolished and the land was cleared. This work was done by the WPA[2]. After that it's not clear what happened because 3 days after the press release, the United States entered World War II. I can find no announcement of the completion of this playground in the New-Deal-era Parks Department press releases.

The Parks Department[3] itself says that the vocational school was never built (its site is now occupied by the parking lot you see in the image), and that in 1954 Parks "improved and developed" the land for recreational use. In any case the original park was built by relief labor and funds, which means New Deal labor and funds[4], and then it was at least expanded by the WPA. What's not clear is whether the expansion was in use as a playground before the New Deal ended in 1943.

  1. NYC Department of Parks Press Release, July 28, 1937.
  2. NYC Department of Parks Press Release, December 4, 1941, which includes a long and detailed plan for the expanded playground, which does not resemble what we see today except in layout.
  3. Belmont Playground History, NYC Parks website, accessed 21 October 2017.
  4. New Deal Assistance in NYC Parks Department Projects, 1934-43, which explains how all Parks Department work 1933-1938 (and much of it until 1943) was with New Deal, funding, labor, and/or design.