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Guide to the Friends of City Hall Park Papers
1992-2009
 MS 1335

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Christine George with additions by Catherine Newton

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on July 30, 2012
Finding Aid is written in English.
using Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Friends of City Hall Park.
Title: Friends of City Hall Park Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1992-2009 (Bulk 1997-2007)
Abstract: The Friends of City Hall Park Papers contain materials from the Friends of City Hall Park, an advocacy group, and its campaigns to better City Hall Park in lower Manhattan. Within this collection are materials pertaining to the park itself as well as other organizations that assisted Friends of City Hall Park. The materials include correspondence, ephemera, newspaper clippings, and maps.
Quantity: 2.0 Linear feet (6 boxes, 1 oversized folder)
Language of Materials Note: The Friends of City Hall Park Papers are written in English.
Call Phrase: MS 1335

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Historical Note

1765 New Yorkers protested the Stamp Act in the Commons
1766 The Sons of Liberty erected (and then repeatedly re-erected) a Liberty Pole in the Commons
July 9, 1776 The Declaration of Independence was read in the Commons in the presence of General George Washington
November 25, 1783 The American Flag was raised over the Commons after the British evacuated New York
1803 Construction began on City Hall, changing the Commons’ name to City Hall Park
1827 A parade celebrating New York’s abolition of slavery stopped in the Park
1842 Croton Fountain was built on the Southside of the Park
1870 The Federal Post Office was built and destroyed the triangular shape of the Park
December 31, 1897 New Yorkers gather in the Park to celebration the creation of the City of Greater New York
1903 The Park’s gas lampposts were replaced with electric lampposts
1920 The Croton Fountain was replaced with a statue
1939 The Federal Post Office was torn down and the Park returned to a triangular shape
1978 The Delacorte Family donated a fountain to the Park
1996 Friends of City Hall Park was founded
1997 Renovations began in the Park
1999 City Hall Park was rededicated
2001 The Northern portion of the Park was closed to the public due to the September 11 terrorist attacks
July 2007 The Park was again completely open to the public

Older than New York City itself, City Hall Park has played an important role for all who settled in Manhattan. When New York was the Dutch colony, New Amsterdam, the land that is currently known as City Hall Park was referred to as the Commons and was used as a pasture, parade ground, and gathering space. Public executions took place there and, during different periods, it provided space for an almshouse and prison.

When the land was under British rule, the Commons became an important place for those inclined towards revolution. New Yorkers protested the Stamp Act there in 1765. The Sons of Liberty, the rebels who helped spark the American Revolution, erected a Liberty Pole outside the soldiers’ barracks in 1766. When the British chopped the pole down, it was replaced. This continued five times. (Today, there is a replica of the Liberty Pole between City Hall and Broadway.) On July 9, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was read in the Commons, in front of George Washington, Continental Army soldiers, and New Yorkers. After the British evacuation of New York on November 25, 1783, the American flag was raised over the Commons.

In the early nineteenth century, the Commons began to evolve into City Hall Park. In 1802 there was a contest to design a new City Hall. The first stone was laid in 1803 and by 1812 the building had been opened to the public. Keeping with its past, when slavery was abolished in New York in 1827, part of the celebration was a parade that stopped in City Hall Park. To mark the Croton Aqueduct’s opening in 1842—which was the first dependable source of pure water in New York City—the Croton Fountain was built on the Park’s south side. During the American Civil War, there were a number of temporary buildings, including soldiers’ barracks—put up all over the Park.

Until 1870, City Hall Park had a triangular shape. However, when the Federal Post Office was built on the southern tip of the park, the shape changed. The Croton fountain had been removed to be replaced by a granite fountain placed in the center of the Park. Though it had begun to change, New Yorkers still gathered in the Park to celebrate as they did on December 31, 1897 to celebrate the City of Greater New York when Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan consolidated into one city. City Hall Park began to mark technological changes as its gas lighting was replaced in 1903 with electric lampposts. In 1920, the Park lost its fountain and replaced it with a statue called “Civic Virtue.” (The statue was eventually moved to Queens Borough Hall in 1941.) As the country was engulfed in the Great Depression in the 1930s, City Hall Park was once again used as a place of protest.

Towards the end of the Great Depression, City officials began to think about renovating the Park. In 1939, the Federal Post Office was torn down, which restored the Park to its former triangular shape. The Delacorte Family donated a fountain to the Park in 1978 which remained in the Park until 1999. Even with the new fountain, the Park began to be neglected and fell into disrepair in the 1980s and 1990s.

Aware of City Hall Park’s history as well as its deteriorating state, neighborhood residents and local businesses came together in 1996 to found Friends of City Hall Park (FCHP). FCHP is an activist organization dedicated to support City Hall Park as a civic center and neighborhood park. In 1997, FCHP produced a “State of the Park” report which determined that immediate action needed to be taken to restore the Park to its former glory. FCHP acted as an advocate for the park, drawing the public’s attention to its condition, calling for its renovation. In order to advance its goals, the FCHP joined its efforts with organizations such as the Parks Department, New York City and State officials, Community Organization No. 1, Partnerships for Parks, New Yorkers for Parks, and other community and activist organizations. In Fall 1998 FCHP was successful and construction began to renovate the Park. The Park was rededicated in 1999 by New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. After the attacks on September 11, 2001, a portion of City Hall Park was closed to the public. FCHP, led by its president Skip Blumberg, began a six year campaign to have the Northern section of the Park opened again to the public. In July 2007 the entirety of City Hall Park was once again open to the public.

City Hall Park: New York’s Historic Commons (New York: City of New York, 1999).

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Scope and Content Note

The Friends of City Hall Park Papers consist mainly of materials generated by the organization from the 1990's through the 2000's. The bulk of materials are handouts and fliers concerning the organization’s goals and efforts. There is also a large amount of correspondence, both to and from the Friends of City Hall Park. The collection also has similar materials from government and other community organizations that were involved with the campaign to restore City Hall Park. There is a variety of ephemera from these organizations, taking the form of fliers, a t shirt, buttons, and other materials.

There is also information about City Hall Park itself as well as other urban parks within New York City. There are maps of the parks, information on plants and animals, as well as advice on gardening.

The collection contains materials from the start of the Friends of City Hall Park through its successful campaign to reopen the Northern section of the Park after it was closed following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Arrangement Note

The Friends of City Hall Park Papers are arranged into three series. Within those series, the materials are arranged into subseries and chronologically into folders.

  1. Series I: Friends of City Hall Park
  2. Series II: Government, Park, Activist, and Other Organizations
  3. Series III: New York City Parks

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Bloomberg, Michael
  • Blumberg, Skip
  • Giuliani, Rudolph W.

Document Type

  • Correspondence
  • Ephemera
  • Legal correspondence
  • Newspapers
  • Pamphlets

Subject Topics

  • City Hall Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Urban parks--New York (State)--New York

Subject Places

  • New York (N.Y.)

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Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote to: Manuscript Curator, The New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation Note

This collection should be cited as the Friends of City Hall Park Papers, MS 1335, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Archival Materials Note

In its main collection the New-York Historical Society Library holds several volumes about City Hall Park. For information concerning advocacy for other New York City parks, please see the Shirley Hayes Papers at the New-York Historical Society Library.

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Container List

Series I: Friends of City Hall Park, 1996-2009

Scope and Content

Within this series there is a wide variety of material from the Friends of City Hall Park, dating back to its formation. These materials consist of correspondence, newspaper articles, information handouts, notes, and ephemera.

Subseries A: Correspondence, 1996-2008, undated

Scope and Content

This subseries contains correspondence both to and from the Friends of City Hall Park. Within the correspondence from the Friends of City Hall Park, the correspondence is both to New York City officials and to other organizations. Many of the letters to the Friends of City Hall Park are from civic officials, responding to letters that had been sent to them. Many of the aforementioned correspondence was either signed by or written to Skip Blumberg, president of Friends of City Hall Park. Of particular interest is the correspondence from letter writing campaigns. New Yorkers wrote to officials, letting them know what City Hall Park means to them. In one instance, a woman wrote to George Steinbrenner, former owner of the New York Yankees, urging him to support City Hall Park.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence to Friends of City Hall Park
1996-2000
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence to Friends of City Hall Park
2001-2008, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Correspondence from Friends of City Hall Park
1997-2001
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Correspondence from Friends of City Hall Park
2002-2007, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Legal Correspondence and Memos
1998-2008, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Letter Campaigns
1997-2000, undated

Subseries B: Administrative and Promotional Materials, 1996-2009, undated

Scope and Content

Within this subseries are materials that the Friends of City Hall Park utilized in its everyday operations. The bulk of this subseries is made up of information materials that outline the Friends’ campaign to better City Hall Park and the various issues that the park faced.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Corporate Organization Papers
1999, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Friends of City Hall Park Information Materials
1996-1998
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Friends of City Hall Park Information Materials
1999-2000
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Friends of City Hall Park Information Materials
2001-2008
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Friends of City Hall Park Information Materials
undated
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Portions of Speeches, Articles, and other Promotional Material
1997-1999, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Administrative and Event Notes
1997-2009, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Fundraising Information and Notes
1998-1999, undated
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Letterhead
undated

Subseries C: Multimedia Materials, 1996-2004, undated

Scope and Content

There are a wide variety of materials within this subseries, all of which document the Friends of City Hall Park. There are DVDs of appearances made by Skip Blumberg, president of the Friends of City Hall Park. There are also many photographs of the members of the organization as well as others who partook in various events at City Hall Park. The bulk of the photographs were taken in 1997. There are also two VHS tapes, one of which is the 1996 major motion picture City Hall, starring Al Pacino, John Cusack, and Bridget Fonda. The other VHS is of a more personal nature, entitled  Skip…The Best Friend of City Hall Park. There is also an autographed copy of the 1997 book,  Sleeping with the Mayor, which tells the story of protesters in City Hall Park.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 16 CDs, DVDs, and Zip Disks
2007, undated
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Photographs
1997
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Photographs
1997
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Photographs
1997
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Photographs
1998-1999
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Photographs
2003-2004
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Photographs
undated
Box: 3 City Hall [VHS]
1996
Box: 3 Skip…The Best Friend of City Hall Park [VHS]
1997
Box: 3 Sleeping with the Mayor [book]
1997

Subseries D: Newspaper Coverage, 1996-2008, undated

Scope and Content

These articles, taken from a variety of New York City newspapers, follow any and all coverage of City Hall Park from 1996 through 2008.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Newspaper Articles
1996-1997
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Newspaper Articles
1998
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Newspaper Articles
January-May 1999
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Newspaper Articles
June-December, 1999
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Newspaper Articles
2000
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Newspaper Articles
2001
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Newspaper Articles
2002-2003
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Newspaper Articles
2005-2006
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Newspaper Articles
February-March 2007
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Newspaper Articles
July-November 2007
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Newspaper Articles
2008-2009
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Newspaper Articles
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Newspaper Articles
undated

Subseries E: Notes and Ephemera, 1997-1999, undated

Scope and Content

Within this subseries are a variety of ephemera. There are membership forms and fliers for events from the Friends of City Hall Park. Of note is a Friends of City Hall Park t-shirt.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Friends of City Hall Park Membership Forms
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Fliers
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Handwritten Notes
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Ephemera
undated
Box: 4 Folder : 17 Folders and Envelopes
1997-1999, undated
Box: 4 Folder : 18 Folders and Envelopes
undated
Box: 5 Friends of City Hall Park T-Shirt
undated

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Series II: Government, Park, Activist, and Other Organizations, 1992-2008

Scope and Content

This series consists of materials from government and community organizations that the Friends of City Hall Park interacted with during their campaigns to better City Hall Park. Similar to Series I, this series contains correspondence, information materials, notes, and ephemera dating back to the late 1990s through to 2008.

Subseries A: Government Organizations, 1992-2008

Scope and Content

The bulk of the material in this subseries comes from the City of New York’s Department of Parks & Recreation. Much like the Friends of City Hall Park series, there is correspondence, general information, notes, and ephemera. There are also materials from other government officials.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 1 City of New York Parks & Recreation Correspondence
1997- 2003
Box: 6 Folder : 2 City of New York Parks & Recreation Memos
1997-1998, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 3 City of New York Parks & Recreation Notes and Ephemera
1997-2003, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Partnership for Parks
1997-1998, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Municipal and State Materials
1997-2008, undated
Oversize: OS 1 City of New York Parks & Recreation Oversized Posters
undated

Subseries B: Park, Activist, and Other Organizations, 1992-2008, undated

Scope and Content

This subseries contains materials from organizations involved with the Friends of City Hall Park. There is correspondence, informational material, and notes from these organizations. There is also a fair amount of ephemera including fliers, pins, and buttons. Of interest are fliers from activist organizations against the (then) mayor of New York City, Rudolph W. Giuliani.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Citizens Committee for New York City
1999, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Community Board No. 1
1996-2008
Box: 6 Folder : 8 New Yorkers for Parks Information Materials
2004-2008, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 9 New Yorkers for Parks Maps, Reports, and Ephemera
2003-2006, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 10 Materials from Other Community and Activist Organizations
1992-2007, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 11 Ephemera from Other Community Organizations
1999, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 12 Activist Ephemera
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 13 Ephemera
1996-2002, undated

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Series III: New York City Parks, 1996-2005, undated

Scope and Content

Within this series is information about parks in New York City. The series covers City Hall Park as well as other urban parks and contains maps and other assorted relevant information.

Subseries A: City Hall Park, 1996-2005, undated

Scope and Content

This subseries concerns City Hall Park itself. Materials within the subseries include official documents, pamphlets on history, maps of the park, and ephemera from events hosted by New York City within the Park.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 14 Official Documents Concerning City Hall Park
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 15 City Hall Park History
1996-1999
Box: 6 Folder : 16 Maps of City Hall Park
1998-2003
Box: 6 Folder : 17 Maps of City Hall Park
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 18 Events Hosted by New York City
1996-2005
Oversize: OS 1 Oversized Official Documents Concerning City Hall Park
undated
Oversize: OS 1 Oversized Maps of City Hall Park
1998, undated

Subseries B: Other Parks and Relevant Material, 1996-1999, undated

Scope and Content

Within this subseries is a variety of information concerning parks in New York City. There is information concerning plants and animals, gardening, tour companies, and maps.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 6 Folder : 19 Plants, Animals, and Gardening Information
1996-1999, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 20 Information on Other Parks
undated
Box: 6 Folder : 21 Tour Companies
1999, undated
Box: 6 Folder : 22 Maps
undated

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