New York (N.Y.). Dept. of Parks and Recreation.

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The 1990 Charter of the City of New York maintained the organization of the Department of Parks and Recreation as it was mandated by local law 1976, No. 7, which added Chapter 21 to the charter.

The Department of Parks and Recreation is responsible for supervising the planning, development, construction, maintenance, and operation of all parks, parkways, recreation centers, playgrounds, beaches, public squares, malls, and recreation facilities, as well as developing and conducting recreation programs for the people of the City of New York.

The Department of Parks has remained basically the same organization as that established on January 18, 1934. Under the provisions of Chapter 2 of the Laws of New York, an act to amend the Greater New York Charter, the five separate borough departments were consolidated into a unified, city-wide Department of Parks under one administrator, whose title was Commissioner of Parks.

Of equal importance historically was the appointment by Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia of the first Commissioner of Parks, Robert Moses, who served as Commissioner from January 18, 1934 through May 23, 1960.

Besides Commissioner of Parks, Robert Moses had been legislatively empowered to hold other related unsalaried offices in order to facilitate coordinating of city and state park, parkway, arterial, bridge, reclamation, housing, and related public planning on improvements. Moses and subsequent commissioners would, under the law, also be ex-officio members of the boards of many of the important cultural institutions in the city.

Writing of Robert Moses, in his Pulitzer Prize biography, "The Power Broker, Robert Moses" and the "Fall of New York", Robert A. Caro concluded: He was a shaper not of sections of a city but of a city. He was, for the greatest city in the Western world, the city shaper, the only city shaper. In sheer physical impact on New York and the entire New York metropolitan region, he is comparable not to the works of any man or group of men or even generations of men. In the shaping of New York, Robert Moses was comparable only to some elemental force of nature.

Under Mayor John V. Lindsay, the Department was reorganized in 1968 under Local Law No. 22, as the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Administration. PRCA functions included the planning, acquisition, construction, improvement, and management of facilities relating to parks, recreation and cultural affairs as well as planning and supervising cultural and recreation programs.

In 1976, under Mayor Abraham D. Beame under Local Law No. 7, PRCA again became the Department of Parks and Recreation, headed by a commissioner who was empowered, to continue the programs of its predecessor. In 1976, a Department of Cultural Affairs had been established, under Local Law No. 6.

The Present Department of Parks and Recreation began with the establishment in the Department of Finance in 1854 of a Bureau of the City Hall and Park, which was responsible for the maintenance of the center of urban government and its grounds. In 1857, the Board of Commissioners of the Central Park was established with jurisdiction on all matters concerning city parks. It was succeeded in 1870 by the Department of Public Parks administered by a board of five commissioners appointed by the mayor. In 1874, the board was reduced to four members, and by 1898 to three commissioners: one for Manhattan and Richmond, one for the Bronx, and one for Brooklyn and Queens. The name of the department was abbreviated to Department of Parks. Individual Commissioners were designated for Queens in 1911 and for Richmond in 1920. Borough administration continued until the creation of the consolidated Department of Parks in 1934.

From the description of Agency history record. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 122407590

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf New York (N.Y.). Dept. of Parks and Recreation. Agency history record. New York City Department of Public Records and Information Services
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Beame, Abraham D. 1906-. person
associatedWith La Guardia, Fiorello H. 1882-1947. person
associatedWith Lindsay, John V. person
associatedWith Moses, Robert, 1888-1981. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (N.Y.)
Recreation centers
Bathing beaches
Recreation areas
Administering recreation

Corporate Body

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Ark ID: w6200n7f

SNAC ID: 31548535