Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Origin of Oakdale Lake

Last month, Gossips stumbled upon a little news item promoting the advantages of ice skating on Oakland Lake which mentioned incidentally that Oakland Lake was an artificial lake. Gossips set out to learn more about the creation of the lake, and yesterday Norma Chepaitis Shook, who grew up near Oakdale and still lives in the neighborhood, sent Gossips the link to an article that appeared in the Columbia Republican for Tuesday, October 27, 1914, and carried the headline "Busy Improving Beautiful Suburb." The article begins: "The Oakdale Park Improvement Company, of which Arthur Farrand is president and Walter J. Watson secretary and treasurer, is not letting the war abroad interfere with its effort to boom Hudson and improve the beautiful plot of ground that it has opened up east of Underhill pond on the Farrand property."

The second paragraph of the article provides information about the lake.

This article, published in the fall of 1914, tells of the plans for the lake, which were not carried out until the following summer. It is not known if they succeeded in engineering "a method of letting out any part or all of the water," but it seems that they failed in creating a lake that was "absolutely safe for children to skate and row on." Oakdale has been the scene of several drownings over the years. The plan to make some of the amenities available only to property holders apparently was pursued. Jack Connor told Gossips that the title to his house on Glenwood Boulevard includes a covenant that he can "build a gate in the fence to allow access to Oakdale."

Click here to read the entire article about the Oakdale Park Improvement Company's plans, which mentions that the lots are "restricted" and "no house costing less than $3,500 can be erected" and speaks of the design for the park, then on display in the window of Leavitt & Smith's drug store, which was the work of Herman W. Merkel, "landscape architect of the Zoological Park, and the Bronx Parkway Commission of the city of New York," who "speaks with unqualified praise of the beauties of the local company's property and the possibilities of a most artistic city section."

1 comment:

  1. And look - no toboggan slide. The old bait-and-switch (heh).