Sunday, May 29, 2011

Beginnings of The Oval Playground

In 1907 East Orange decided to purchase the land for the playground known as The Oval. At that time, the property (the land was part of the Aaron Peck estate) was already an athletic field called the "Orange Oval" and had been used by the Orange Athletic Club (the Club was referred to as "now defunct" in the City's 1907 playground planning documents) and others since about 1887 for football, baseball, bicycle races, and other sports. Formally named the "East Orange Playground," during its lifetime it's also been referred to as The Oval, The Orange Oval, The East Orange Oval, and The Grove Street Oval. The planners moved quickly, and the playground was dedicated on September 7, 1908. The original grandstand shown in these photos was made of wood and had 1800 seats. It burned down in 1925 and was soon replaced with a 2500 seat, concrete grandstand.

                                                     Above: postcard from 1913

Photo 1: Grandstand (seating capacity, 1800); Photo 2: Dedication Day (Sept 7, 1908) as seen from the Grove St Lackawanna Station; Photo 3: Dedication Day ball game between the State Senate and General Assembly, view from the Grandstand looking toward Greenwood Ave; Photo 4:  Dedication Day view of The Grandstand; Photo 5: Tennis courts as seen from the Grove Place entrance looking toward Grove Street. (photos are from 1908 and 1909 Annual Reports of the East Orange Board of Playgrounds Commissioners which are available at .com)

Above: the Grove Place entrance

Above photo: From the magazine Suburban Life, July 1912; view is looking toward the Grove Place entrance with grandstand just out of photo to the left

Above in the background: there was a carpentry business adjacent to The Oval behind the houses along Greenwood Avenue

               Above: looking SE toward Eaton Place; Grove Street Lackawanna Station is in background

               Below: SW corner of playground; building in background on left is probably Congregational                                               Church at Main Street and Grove Street.

                             Above and below: more photos (looking NW) of the SW corner of playground

           Above: looking east from SW corner of playground; Grove Street Lackawanna station is on right

        Below: the eastern side (behind the buildings along Greenwood Avenue) of the playground, the girls'                                                                    gymnasium area

Above: looking east toward the Greenwood Avenue/Eaton Place intersection

Above: 1910 Labor Day celebration

Below: photos from the September, 1914 issue of The Playground magazine

Below: 6/1921; looking NW across Eaton Place, The Oval is to the left

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