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Phoenix’s Iconic Encanto Park Celebrating 75th Anniversary

[Source: City of Phoenix]

 

The kiddie train passes by at Encanto Park

Flickr photograph by Scott Jones (rscottjones)

Phoenix’s Encanto Park, recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of the nation’s 12 best city parks, will be celebrating its 75th anniversary from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Nov. 27. The daylong celebration will feature live music, kids’ activities, food and a spectacular fireworks display at 7 p.m.

 

Encanto Park lovers also can support it at a fundraising reception at the park’s Clubhouse sponsored by Friends of Encanto Park. The reception features food from local restaurants and live music and performances. Ticket prices for the reception are $50 in advance or $75 at the door. Comprehensive event information is available online at phoenix.gov/parks.

Encanto Park’s 65 acres, located in the heart of central Phoenix, boasts dozens of massive trees of numerous species. The 27 holes of the adjacent Encanto Golf Course, along with the park, offers residents more than 200 total acres of green space right in Phoenix’s urban core. Its fishing lagoons attract thousands of anglers each year. Visitors can rent paddle boats to set out on the park’s waterways.

The park also features a sports complex with lighted basketball, handball, volleyball, tennis and racquetball courts; lighted picnic areas and grills; an exercise course; a playground; a pool; a recreation building; and restrooms.  It is also is home to Enchanted Island Amusement Park, with a host of rides for children ages 2 to 10 years old.

Encanto Park was built between 1935 and 1938 in what was then the northern part of the city. It has provided outdoor recreation for generations of Phoenicians from throughout the city.  The land was purchased, designed and built jointly by the federal Works Progress Administration and the city of Phoenix. For several decades in and around the 1950s, a band shell at the park hosted concerts and cultural events that would attract thousands of spectators. The park also hosted fishing derbies at its signature lagoon that attracted hundreds of area youth. Phoenix voters approved numerous bond issues over the years to expand and improve the park.*

In addition to the website, information on the park is available by calling 602-261-8991.

 

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Depression-era interviews of 700 Arizonans preserved

[Source: Richard Ruelas, Arizona Republic] — The Works Progress Administration, a government public-works program started during the Great Depression, didn’t just leave Arizona with canals and sidewalks.  It also preserved some personal human history.  The project yielded oral histories of about 700 residents, most of whom were elderly when they were interviewed in the 1930s.  Consider them slices of government-funded history.

The WPA, later renamed the Work Projects Administration, was part of the New Deal that President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted during the Great Depression.  It included projects such as those canals and sidewalks.  But writers needed jobs, too.  So did teachers, librarians, artists, and other white-collar workers.  But according to the Web site of the Library of Congress, there was a belief that these folks might not make good bricklayers.  So the government launched the Federal Writers’ Project.  Part of its mission was to document life histories.  The project lasted from 1935 to 1939, before federal funding was yanked.

Melanie Sturgeon, director of Arizona’s History and Archives Division, said most of the interviews were done by the time federal funding dried up.  “By the time 1939 was over,” she said, “they were just cleaning (the interviews) up.”  Twelve boxes containing interviews are stored in the new Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building in downtown Phoenix.  The material is available for viewing in the archives center, just west of the State Capitol.  [Note: To read the full article, click here.]