@ 2011 New-York Historical Society logo

Guide to the Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park Records
1916-1938 (Bulk 1916-1931)
  MS 139

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


@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Kathryn Kashmiry

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Title: Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park Records
Dates: 1916-1938 (Bulk 1916-1931)
Abstract: The Records of the Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park contain a variety of documents concerning the formation of the League and their activities regarding the preservation of Riverside Park and Upper West Side Improvement Plan. The collection contains correspondence, pamphlets, annual reports, clipping scrapbooks, minutes, cashbooks, and photographic materials.
Quantity: 5.5 Linear feet (11 boxes)
Location note: Manuscript cage
Call Phrase: MS 139

Return to Top »


Historical Note

Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park was formed in May of 1916 with the objective to protect Riverside Park from proposed landscape alterations brought forth by the New York Central Railroad Company and the City of New York. Upon its establishment in 1916, an Executive Board consisting of mostly residents from the Upper West Side was established. Mrs. Charles Austin Bryan was the founding President. The five founding Vice Presidents were Mrs. James M. Stewart, Mrs. John Clapperton Kerr, Mrs. Arthur Melville Shrady, Mrs. John Caldwell Coleman, and Mrs. William R. Stewart. Members and individuals supporting the League's mission and activities primarily resided in the Upper West Side neighborhood. By 1918, the League represented over five hundred members. The first luncheon of the League was held on May 18, 1921 at the Claremont.

In 1916, the League primarily advocated for provisions to protect the park from the developments of the Port and Terminal facilities of New York City. These developments were the result of New York Central Railroad Company's West Side Improvement Plan, one of the largest projects undertaken jointly by public and private interests in Manhattan. The plan proposed developments to cover the railroad north of 72nd Street, construct an express motor highway, and create an additional 32 acres of recreational space for the public. The City of New York and the New York Central Railroad Company reached an agreement on July 2, 1929 concerning the Improvement Project. The Improvement Plan was dedicated on July 18, 1934 and completed in 1937.

The League was engaged with many matters concerning the planning and negotiations of the West Side Improvement Project, especially with matters concerning Riverside Park. Large portions of records in the collection reflect exchanges between the League and representatives of the West Side Improvement Engineering Committee. The Engineering Committee included representatives from the Board of Transportation, the Transit Commission, the Board of Estimate and Apportionment, the Borough of Manhattan, the Port of New York Authority, and the New York Central Railroad Company. The League was successful in negotiations with the Park Department and New York Central Railroad Company for the construction of foundations and walls covering the tracks as far as 82nd Street, the restoration of the southerly end of Riverside Park, provisions for boating and recreational facilities along the river, the removal of shacks along the river front and coal pockets from 96th Street, and the paving of the promenade north of 96th Street.

The League was also involved in park projects that promoted civic improvement and environmental preservation. In 1926, the League dedicated the area of Riverside Park extending from 116th to 124th Streets as an area called the "Memorial Grove of States." The League planted 72 trees, a memorial tree to an unknown solider of each state in the Union, the District of Columbia, Alaska, and Puerto Rico, in addition to planting 19 trees as a memorial to special patriots. The League also had an area in the park they referred to as the Bird Sanctuary. The League recorded the variety of migratory birds in the Sanctuary during its early years.

The League was involved in a variety of projects promoting the Park's significant role in the lives of children and residents of New York City. From the early days of the League, the League had an interest in the children in public and private schools, and the care and protection of the parks. Troop 599 Boy Scouts of America patrolled the Groves daily. The school children of public schools Nos. 54 and 179 planted trees in the park. The league encouraged children to make bird houses for placement in the trees in Riverside Park. They held birdhouse and poster contests. There was an exhibition of birdhouses and posters at the American Museum of Natural History, at the Columbia Yacht Club, and the Exposition of Women's Arts.

On November 18, 1938, the final meeting of the League's Executive board was held. The League's surplus funds were given to the Audubon Society for the care of the Bird Sanctuary and to the Park Department for the care of the Memorial Graves. The content in the League's records demonstrate the following two variants of the League's name: the Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park and the Women's League for the Protection of Riverside Park.

Return to Top »


Scope and Content Note

The majority of records include correspondence and related ephemera concerning the activities of the League's executive board members, primarily Mrs. Charles Austin Bryan and Mrs. Helen Culver Kerr (Mrs. John Clapperton Kerr). The bulk of the collection includes correspondence and related documents that primarily address the encroachment of the New York Central tracks on Riverside Park, and the City of New York's Board of Estimate and Apportionment involvements in plans regarding the Upper West Side Improvement. The materials also include photographs of Riverside Park, and the League's activities in the Park. The collection includes two cashbooks, one minute book, and a variety of clippings scrapbooks of the League's activities and civic interests. Oversized materials include a variety of maps and blueprints concerning Riverside Park and the West Side Improvement Plan.

Arrangement Note

The records primarily reflect the original filing system of the League.

The records are divided into 5 series:

  1. Series I: Correspondence of the Executive Board, (1916-1936)
  2. Series II: Photographs (1926-1930, undated)
  3. Series III: Administrative Books (1916-1931)
  4. Series IV: Maps and Blueprints (1924-1932)
  5. Series V: Newspaper Clipping Scrapbooks (1920-1936)

Return to Top »


Access Points

Subject Names

  • Bryan, Mrs. Charles Austin
  • Kerr, Helen Culver
  • Marks, Marcus M.
  • Vitale, Ferruccio, 1875-1933.

Document Type

  • Annual reports
  • Annuals (publications)
  • Black-and-white photographs
  • Blueprints (reprographic copies)
  • Cashbooks
  • Cliches-verre (negatives)
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Correspondence
  • Drafts (documents)
  • Ephemera
  • Invitations
  • Legal documents
  • Minute Books
  • Minutes
  • Pamphlets
  • Scrapbooks

Subject Organizations

  • American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society.
  • Ethical Culture School of New York City
  • Fredrick Law Olmstead (Firm).
  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.). Office of the President.
  • Municipal Art Society of New York.
  • New York (N.Y.) Dept. of Parks.
  • New York (N.Y.). Board of Estimate.
  • New York Central Railroad Company.
  • New York City Federation of Women's Clubs.
  • New York State College of Forestry at Syracuse University.
  • Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park.
  • Women's League for the Protection of Riverside Park.

Subject Topics

  • Civic improvement -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Landscape protection - New York (State) - New York.
  • Manhattan (New York, N.Y.) --1900-1930.
  • New York Central Railroad Company.
  • Parks -- New York (State) -- New York - History - 20th century.
  • Railroads -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Trees -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Waterfronts -- New York (State) -- New York.
  • Women -- Societies and Clubs - New York (State) -- New York.

Subject Places

  • Riverside Drive (New York, N.Y.)
  • Riverside Park (New York, N.Y.)
  • Upper West Side (New York, N.Y.)
  • West Side Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)

Return to Top »


Administrative Information

Provenance

Donation, Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park, 1938.

Access Restrictions

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

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

Manuscripts Curator
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park Records, MS 139, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material at The New-York Historical Society

The Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park also produced a number of additional records including clippings scrapbooks, minutes, and reports. These materials are separated from the material included in this guide and included in the general collections. The related materials are searchable in the New-York Historical Society's online catalog. For additional information, please contact New-York Historical Society library staff.

Return to Top »


Container List

Series I: Correspondence of the Executive Board, 1916-1936, 1916-1936

Scope and Contents note

Summary:

The majority of materials in this series include reports and correspondence from private and government bodies concerning the West Side Improvement Plan and the proposed changes to Riverside Park. The materials include correspondence between Mrs. John Clapperton Kerr, and Marcus M. Marks, the President of the City of New York's Borough of Manhattan. Also included is correspondence between Mrs. John Clapperton Kerr and the City of New York's Department of Parks, Department of Docks and Ferries, State of the Senate in Albany, and the New York Central Railroad Company. Materials include general correspondence with NY organizations, lawyers, landscape architects, youth and educational organizations, and other individuals and organizations interested in the mission of the League. Among the documents is a report of the specific types of trees in the path of the proposed changes by the New York Central Railroad. There are also various documents concerning the Leagues establishment of the Park's Bird Sanctuary and Memorial Grove of States.

The records are arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The alphabetic filing system is inconsistent in its method of arrangement. In 1929, the filing system shifted to grouping files together with similar subjects instead of in an alphabetical system. Therefore, records filed between 1929 and 1936 were assigned subjects titles that reflect the nature of the records.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 Correspondence A
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 2 Correspondence B
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 3 Correspondence C
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 4 Correspondence D
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 5 Correspondence E
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 6 Correspondence F
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 7 Correspondence G
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 8 Correspondence H
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 9 Correspondence I
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 10 Correspondence J
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 11 Correspondence K
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 12 Correspondence L
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 13 Correspondence M
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 14 Correspondence N
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 15 Correspondence O
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 16 Correspondence P
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 17 Correspondence Q
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 18 Correspondence R
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 19 Correspondence S
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 20 Correspondence T
1916
Box: 1 Folder : 21 Correspondence W
1916
Box: 2 Folder : 1 Correspondence A
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 2 Correspondence B
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 3 Correspondence C
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 4 Correspondence D
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 5 Correspondence E
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 6 Correspondence F
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 7 Correspondence G
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 8 Correspondence H
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 9 Correspondence I
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 10 Correspondence J
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 11 Correspondence K
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 12 Correspondence L
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 13 Correspondence M
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 14 Correspondence N
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 15 Correspondence O
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 16 Correspondence P
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 17 Correspondence Q
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 18 Correspondence R
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 19 Correspondence S
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 20 Correspondence V
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 21 Correspondence W
1917
Box: 2 Folder : 22 Correspondence C
1918
Box: 2 Folder : 23 Correspondence L
1918
Box: 2 Folder : 24 Correspondence O-P
1918
Box: 2 Folder : 25 Correspondence R
1918
Box: 2 Folder : 26 Correspondence A
1919
Box: 2 Folder : 27 Correspondence F
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 28 Correspondence G
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 29 Correspondence K
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 30 Correspondence M
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 31 Correspondence O-P
1920
Box: 2 Folder : 32 Correspondence R-T
1920
Box: 3 Folder : 1 Correspondence B
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 2 Correspondence L
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 3 Correspondence O-P
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 4 Correspondence Q
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 5 Correspondence R
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 6 Correspondence S
1921
Box: 3 Folder : 7 Correspondence A
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 8 Correspondence B
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 9 Correspondence C-E
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 10 Correspondence G
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 11 Correspondence H
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 12 Correspondence K-L
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Correspondence M-N
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 14 Correspondence O-P
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 15 Correspondence R-T
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 16 Correspondence X-Z
1922
Box: 3 Folder : 17 Correspondence B-C
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 18 Correspondence D-E
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 19 Correspondence L-M
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 20 Correspondence N
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 21 Correspondence O-P
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 22 Correspondence R
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 23 Correspondence S-T
1923
Box: 3 Folder : 24 Correspondence A
1924
Box: 3 Folder : 25 Correspondence B
1924
Box: 3 Folder : 26 Correspondence C-E
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 1 Correspondence G-F
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 2 Correspondence L
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 3 Correspondence M
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 4 Correspondence N-P
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 5 Correspondence Q-R
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 6 Correspondence S-T
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 7 Correspondence U-W
1924
Box: 4 Folder : 8 Correspondence B
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 9 Correspondence C-F
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 10 Correspondence G
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 11 Correspondence H
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 12 Correspondence I-J
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 13 Correspondence K-L
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 14 Correspondence M
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 15 Correspondence N
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 16 Correspondence O-P
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 17 Correspondence Q-R
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 18 Correspondence S
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 19 Correspondence T
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 20 Correspondence U-W
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 21 Correspondence X-Z
1925
Box: 4 Folder : 22 Correspondence B
1926
Box: 4 Folder : 23 Correspondence C
1926
Box: 4 Folder : 24 Correspondence E
1926
Box: 4 Folder : 25 Correspondence H
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 1 Correspondence L
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 2 Memorial Grove Dedication
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 3 Memorial Grove
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 4 Correspondence M
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 5 Correspondence N
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 6 Correspondence O-P
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 7 Correspondence Q-R
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 8 Correspondence S-T
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 9 Correspondence U-W
1926
Box: 5 Folder : 10 Annual Report: Department of Parks (Manhattan)
1927
Box: 5 Folder : 11 Correspondence A-B
1927
Box: 5 Folder : 12 Correspondence C
1927
Box: 5 Folder : 13 Correspondence D
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 1 Correspondence E
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 2 Correspondence F-G
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 3 Herrick, Walter (Commissioner of Parks)
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 4 Correspondence H
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 5 Correspondence L
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 6 Memorial Grove of State Trees
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 7 Correspondence M-N
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 8 Policy: Mrs. Carr V. Vann Anda
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 9 Correspondence O-P
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 10 Correspondence Q-R
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 11 Correspondence S-T
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 12 Correspondence U-W
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 13 Correspondence X-Z
1927
Box: 6 Folder : 14 Correspondence A-C
1928
Box: 6 Folder : 15 Endorsements
1928
Box: 6 Folder : 16 Correspondence D-E
1928
Box: 6 Folder : 17 Correspondence F
1928
Box: 6 Folder : 18 Correspondence G
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 1 Correspondence H
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 2 Correspondence L
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 3 Correspondence M-N
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 4 Correspondence O-P
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 5 Correspondence Q-R
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 6 Correspondence S
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 7 Correspondence T
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 8 West Side Plans
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 9 Correspondence U-Z
1928
Box: 7 Folder : 10 Correspondence A
1929
Box: 7 Folder : 11 Correspondence B
1929
Box: 7 Folder : 12 Correspondence C
1929
Box: 7 Folder : 13 Correspondence D-E
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 1 Correspondence F-H
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 2 Correspondence I-L
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 3 Correspondence M
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 4 Correspondence N
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 5 Correspondence O-P
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 6 Correspondence Q-R
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 7 Correspondence S-T
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 8 Correspondence U-W
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 9 Correspondence X-Z
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 10 Annual Luncheon
April 1931
Box: 8 Folder : 11 Bird Sanctuary
1927-1931
Box: 8 Folder : 12 City of New York and New York Central Railroad Co. Agreement
July 2, 1929
Box: 8 Folder : 13 Encroachments and Legislation
1929-1931
Box: 8 Folder : 14 Flag
1930
Box: 8 Folder : 15 General Correspondence
1929-1931
Box: 8 Folder : 16 Metropolitan Conference on Parks
1930
Box: 8 Folder : 17 Printing
1929-1930; Undated
Box: 8 Folder : 18 Riverside Park
1930
Box: 8 Folder : 19 School Children and Parks
1929-1931
Box: 8 Folder : 20 Walter Herrick (Commissioner of Parks)
1929
Box: 8 Folder : 21 Walter Herrick (Commissioner of Parks)
1930-1931
Box: 8 Folder : 22 West Side Development
1929-1931
Box: 9 Folder : 1 Correspondence from Mary Adam Luce
1931-1932; Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 2 Letters and Reports
1931-1936
Box: 9 Folder : 3 President's Message
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 4 "Riverside Drive" Essays by Children
May 1934
Box: 9 Folder : 5 Riverside Lecture
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 6 School Plays
1934-1935
Box: 9 Folder : 7 Spring Luncheon
1933

Return to Top »


Series II: Photographs (1926-1930, undated), 1926-1930

Scope and Contents note

Summary:

Materials in this series include photographs of Riverside Park, and the League's activities in the Park. Many photographs document children in the park and the dedication of trees in the park to the city. Many of the photographs are undated.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Folder : 8 Children in the Park; Children with Birdhouses
Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 9 Dedicating Trees in the Park
1927; Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 10 Riverside Park
1926; 1928; Undated
Box: 9 Folder : 11 Miscellaneous
1930; Undated
Box: 10 Oversized Photographs
Undated

Return to Top »


Series III: Administrative Books (1916-1931), 1916-1931

Scope and Contents note

Summary:

The materials in this series include small books documenting the constitution and by-laws of the Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park. Most books were printed annually, or bi-annually. Books titled "Yearbook" contain information concerning the League's officers, active members, and the League's constitution and annual reports. Also included is a typed draft of the League's first constitution dated 1916.

The series also includes three administrative ledgers of the Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park. One cash book dates from October of 1927 to October of 1933. The second cashbook dates from October of 1933 to 1938. Each cashbook identifies the Treasurer as Harriet W. Holly. The third ledger is a minute book dating 1927 to 1938.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 9 Folder : 12 Constitution, By Laws, and Yearbooks
1916-1931

Return to Top »


Series IV: Maps and Blueprints (1924-1932), 1924-1932

Scope and Contents note

Summary:

The majority of materials include architectural maps of Riverside Park and the Upper West Side. Also included are blueprints of the proposed developments of Riverside Park. The materials include a bound book of engineering plans for the removal of New York Central Railroad Company's tracks from the streets along the Hudson River waterfront and for related public improvements dated May 13, 1927.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 10 Maps and Blueprints
1924-1932

Return to Top »


Series V: Newspaper Clipping Scrapbooks (1920-1936), 1920-1936

Scope and Contents note

Summary:

Materials include two scrapbooks of newspaper and magazine clippings dating from 1920 to 1936. The clippings were collected by the Woman's League for the Protection of Riverside Park. The content of the clippings concern the League's activities, Riverside Park, New York City Parks, New York City Ports, Riverside Drive, and the Upper West Side Improvement Plan.

Container 1     Title Date
Box: 11 Scrapbook
1920-1921
Box: 11 Scrapbook
1924-1936

Return to Top »


Return to Top »