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Our City Parks

This article appeared in the City of Dayton Annual Report for 1940


Our City Parks




Superintendent of Parks


ACTION COMPELLED BY EMERGENCY often produces an awakening to human problems which otherwise would await solution too long delayed. The flood of 1913 forced an issue and set in motion a chain of events leading finally to organized and planned procedure. For many years parks were more or less occasional features. They were in most instances established when some philanthropist deeded a desirable open space to a governmental unit or when some area of scenic or recreational significance was so outstanding that interested citizens demanded that it be protected by public ownership. Thirty-five years ago Dayton could not boast of a single park. The river levees and Cooper Park were the first. After the devastating flood waters of 1913, Dayton came out of the muck and mire with a determination to build a safer, cleaner and more beautiful city. Today, it can point with pride for what has been accomplished thus far. Due to the ingenuity of the late William Madden, the former Superintendent of Parks, most of the dumps and rubbish heaps have been transformed into beauty spots, with lawns, trees and shrubbery, convenient walks and play centers. In the past few years many facilities for the convenience of the public recreational activities have been added.

     Riverview Park, one of the outstanding beauty spots and recreation centers, has new tennis courts and fifteen horseshoe courts. This year three shuffleboard courts were added, also a shelter house and wading pool. One of the chief attractions for the youngsters who use the wading pool is an overhead shower. Many of us can recall how we enjoyed playing in the gutter when city firemen tested the water plugs and we got a real shower bath, hence the idea of installing shower heads over a number of the wading pools.

     McKinley Park, once a factory site, and through which flowed the hydraulic canal, is today one of the most beautiful and restful parks in the City. Its spacious lawns, trees, flowers and shrubbery, convenient walks and play area are enjoyed by hundreds who avail themselves of this park. [p. 42]

     In the development of our City Parks we have not been unmindful of the many recreational features: slides, swings, ball diamonds, tennis, volleyball, and horseshoe courts. But, unlike many other cities, these are not bare, unattractive fenced-off areas; all of them are beautified with well kept shrubbery beds, trees, flowers and lawns. We desire to mention Edgemont Elms, where there are lighted ball diamonds, a new shelter house and wading pool. At Burkham Center the old wooden grandstand was removed and the park generally beautified. A new shelter house was built at Walnut Hills Park, where many small groups enjoy picnicking. Outdoor movies are provided for the people of this section. Concrete bleachers, seating about four hundred, were built along the ball diamond. In the past year more activity and renewed interest was evident in Washington playground. A new shelter house with toilet facilities was built there.

     For those who enjoy boating and picnic facilities, there is a beautiful park lying east of the city and known as Eastwood Park. Its tree-shaded lagoons and large lake attract thousands during the summer months. Owing to the popularity of this park, it was necessary to build two more cabins equipped with fireplaces and cooking utensils when can be rented for a small fee.

     In the west end of the city lies McCabe Park, a beautiful wooded area of beech, oak and elm trees, some of the largest in this section of the country. Numerous family reunions enjoy the benefits of this park. In the past year it was found necessary to remove the old dance hall and play apparatus from the picnic grounds. A new play area was constructed, and a new shelter house, handball court, and ball diamond added.

     During 1935, with the aid of Civil Works Administration, a new boulevard extending from Ridge Avenue to Siebenthaler Avenue was started. Just recently, with the assistance of the Works Progress Administration, this was completed. New roads were built, and the boulevard was seeded, planted to evergreens, shrubbery, and various kinds of trees. Seven picnic areas equipped with outside fireplaces and tables were installed for the use of small groups who enjoy picnicking along the banks of the Stillwater river.

     Canoeing is one of the popular forms of recreation in Island Park. For the benefit of the canoeists, new lockers which will house about 382 canoes were constructed. In addition, since this park is also used by many groups of picnickers, a new shelter house was built. Band concerts at Island Park have been provided for many years. A new [p. 43] band shell was completed this year which is one of the finest in the country. Many thousands have enjoyed the concerts and other entertainments during the past season. It is estimated that crowds from 8,000 to 12,000 in a single evening have enjoyed the concerts.

     Our parks undoubtedly will continue to provide a better day by day program for a larger number of our people. With the neighborhood park, the small park, the large city park, and the children’s playgrounds within easy reach, there is an opportunity to develop activities which engage the daily interest of everyone. [Photograph: A Park Scene] [p. 44]