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1921: Jersey City Under Commission Government
A Book of Achievement

Pershing Field

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COPYRIGHT 2003, GET NJ

ERSHING FIELD, on the site of the old abandoned reservoir at Manhattan Avenue, Central Avenue and Summit Avenue, is a credit not only to Commissioner Moore and his colleagues of the City Commissioner, but to the City as well. Its fame has become nation-wide.

A word picture of this huge park and playfield can hardly adequately describe this improvement. A third of a mile cinder track, the finest, so experts declare, in this country, circles the athletic field. Inside of this oval is found baseball diamonds and a modern athletic field. During the winter months the infield is flooded and when frozen over makes one of the best and largest skating parks in the country. Many thousands of people enjoyed the skating at Pershing Field during the two seasons that it has been completed.

Overlooking the track and field is a beautiful community house with all of the appointments of a place of this kind, shower baths, lockers, dressing rooms, and every requirement that an athlete demands is found on the ground floor. On the upper story is a band stand in the center, with a rest room for women on one side. During the winter months the entire building is heated by steam, affording comfortable quarters for the thousands who journey to the big field to enjoy the skating.

On top of a grass terraced incline is found six of the finest tennis courts in the country, and many of the leading experts in this line of sport have taken part in tournaments upon these courts, and have placed their stamp of approval upon them.

Gravel paths, with a bordering of grass and shrubbery on either side, lead to a spacious park in the center of the elevation. A sunken garden, beautiful flowers and shrubbery make this one of the show places of the city.

To the south of the park is found one of the largest and best equipped kiddies' play fields in the State. A huge wading pool that has afforded thousands of kiddies many hours of enjoyment during the hot summer period was one of the first things that the Commissioner had installed in the playgrounds. Swings, basketball courts, slides, a big sand pit for the smaller folks, and a spacious bit of ground for other games are many of the attractions of the playground. A pergola is one of the more recent added features to the playground portion of Pershing Field. This will afford shade during the midday huors of the summer and will also be used as dressing rooms for the tots who use the wading pool. Not alone is it useful, but adds greatly to the beauty of the largest park and play field in the State.

During the past year alone it is estimated that over a million people visited Pershing Field. It proved to be one of the most popular fields in not alone the city, but the surrounding territory. Many hundreds of people came from New York and other nearby cities to witness the many athletic meets that Commissioner Moore was the chief factor in having held at this field.

The big field and track was officially opened in 1919 as a practically completed product with the Senior Championship games. After careful inspection on the part of the A. A. U. officials, Jersey City was awarded this big athletic event, despite the fact that many other cities in the East were making efforts to obtain this classic. Many thousands of athletic fans attended these games and all were loud in their praise of the big field that Jersey City now owned. The National All-Round Championship was another big event held at this field during that year.

Last year the initial county meet was held and another record-breaking crowd attended. This meet brought out many young athletes who will soon be heard from in the athletic world. The opening of the six tennis courts at the field brought forth the stars of this game when Ichiya Kumagae, the Japanese champion; S. Howard Voshell, the singles champion of the East; Beals Wright and Walter Merritt Hall played several exhibition games.

These games, coupled with the many baseball and football games during that season, placed Jersey City on the athletic map. During 1920 the Senior Track and Field Championships were again held. This, coupled with the county meet, the industrial meet and many other meets held by church and civic organizations, made the track and field a very popular and busy spot.

But Pershing Field and park is only one of the many parks and play spots in the city. In most every section can be found baseball diamonds, parks and recreation centers for both young and old, all conducted by the City Commissioners and for the general benefit of the people at large.

Many Parks and Playgrounds.

During the war, while other great municipalities were having labor troubles and their factories loaded down with war contracts held up, Jersey City and her many industries kept pegging away with never a thought or care of what her sister cities were doing. It is our proud boast that during the entire war there was not one strike or any labor trouble in the seven hundred and fifty industries of Jersey City. It was so to a great extent the recreation centers and the big play fields where the workers gathered during their spare hours that kept them keyed up to the gigantic tasks that confronted them, and with the winning of the big world war Jersey City can boast of a clean slate in so far as doing her bit from an indus- trial standpoint.

Moving picture shows, band concerts, block dances and community socials, all governed by the city officials, are a part of this big recreation program making the general population of Jersey City one big family affair, placing the residents of the city on an even level, creating a better morale and a cleaner and greater city.

The playgrounds are supervised by a man who has studied playground work, and he has under him a corps of instructors who have passed the acid test and have proven their ability to look after the young and teach them the games that in their primary walk of life will bring forth better men and women and, above all, better Americans.

The playground system, as instituted by Commissioner Moore, has developed during his past administration to such proportions that today Jersey City ranks among the leaders in the number of playgrounds and activities carried on. The play spots are educational as well as instructive and healthful for the young folks of our city.

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