Sunday, January 8, 2017

The New Deal in DC: Folger Park

(All photos by Brent McKee, November 2016.)

Above: Folger Park is located in Washington, DC, on 2nd and D streets. It's a small park, perhaps just an acre or two, and just a few blocks from the Library of Congress. This is one of the park's access points.

Above: Folger Park has history back to 1792, when it was declared an "open space," and it was once part of "large tract of land owned by Daniel Carroll" (one of the "Founding Fathers" of America). A 1993 Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS No. DC-672) reported, "A new design for Folger Park was installed during the Depression in 1936 by Works Progress Administration laborers. The new, more formal design consisted of a cross inscribed in an oval with a large square central flagstone patio surrounding an octagonal pool. Four rectangular flower beds were formed in the arms of the cross, and at the east and west sides, large bench and fountain structures made of cast concrete with pebble facing, feature mosaics depicting the landscape design of the park. This design remains largely intact today." (A 2004 report from the DC Government, as well as recent images from Google Earth, and my visit to the park in 2016, shows that the WPA's work is still present).

Above: Folger Park is a small sanctuary from the hustle & bustle of city life.

Above: This squirrel has a home in Folger Park.

Above: This is one of the two "large bench and fountain structures made of cast concrete with pebble facing, featur[ing] mosaics depicting the landscape design of the park."

Above: Both mosaics are in very poor condition. You can barely make out the words "Folger Park."

Above: Here you can see the pebble facing of the bench seats, along with what appears to be a rain drain, so puddles don't form.

Above: The wood on this bench seat is probably not too old, but perhaps the WPA installed the metal frame?

Above: Did the WPA install this light post? The post has some creative design, which would probably rule out modern installation. When it comes to public places and public architecture today, we usually choose cheap & boring over quality & creativity.

Above: A closer look at the top of the light post.

Above: This is the "central flagstone patio." Like the rest of America's infrastructure, it's crumbling.

Above: Overall, Folger Park is pretty nice. The grounds (except for the concrete structures, the mosaics, and the flagstone patio) appear to be fairly well maintained; I didn't see too much trash. While I was there, I saw a man jogging through the park, another man using his cell phone, and a woman with a stroller (you can see her in the second photo of this blog post, if you look closely). With a little TLC, and maybe a few extras, the park could be even nicer - just as the New Deal intended it to be.

1 comment:

  1. I have visited this park many times. I sit on the benches and appreciate the quiet and the open space. Thanks for reminding us of the ongoing heritage of the WPA. Saul Schniderman