New York City New Deal...

Jackie Robinson Park and Pool

Frank da Cruz, Bronx NY, 10 August 2018
Most recent update: Sun Jan 7 08:35:44 2024

Jackie Robinson Park is an immense 10-block-long installation in Harlem, New York City, originally called Colonial Park (officially, but people in the neighborhood called it Bradhurst Park). In the mid-1930s a massive two-year-long New Deal construction project transformed a little-used bare-bones park into a world-class swimming and recreation complex for the long-underserved people of Harlem. The result, originally called Colonial Play Center, included a huge swimming pool, an equally huge bathhouse and recreation center, a diving pool, a bandshell with a large outdoor terrace for dancing, a playground for small children, a wading pool and bathhouse for older children, athletic fields and game courts for teens and grownups, and natural parkland. It made an enormous difference in the lives of Harlem residents, especially in the blistering heat of Summer 1936. In 1978 the park's name was changed to honor Jackie Robinson. In 2007 it was designated a New York City landmark. In March 2022 new historical marker acknowledging the WPA was installed by Parks Department at the Play Center's main entrance.

New Deal Medallion installed August 2020
New Deal Medallion
New Deal Medallion installed August 2020
Closer view
NYC New Deal Medallion
Closer view
Even though this park, swimming pool, and recreation center were designed, paid for, and built by Federal New Deal agencies of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, there was no plaque, cornerstone, or other marker anywhere in or around the park or its buildings crediting the New Deal in any way for this magnificent community resource. However, thanks to the work of the New York City Chapter of Living New Deal, small New Deal medallions have been temporarily mounted at New York City's 12 WPA swimming pools like the ones shown at left (photos by Peggy Crane); see story. This site was not unique in this respect; most New Deal creations in New York City lack New Deal markers for the reasons explained HERE. Click the first image below to start your tour of this WPA masterpiece from Great Depression, when the US government worked for the people instead of against us.

  (Click on any photo to enter)
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Colonial Park before WPA

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WPA Swimming pool

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Historic pool photos by WPA Federal Art Project

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WPA Recreation Center

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WPA Bandshell and dance area

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WPA Playground One Forty Nine

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WPA Athletic field and game courts

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WPA Wading pool

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Other WPA-improved areas

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Created by Photogallery 2.36 November 9, 2019