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Existing System Overview

Public Swimming Pool at Pullen Park, 1940 (image courtesy of Remember

Raleigh - North Carolina State Archives)

Residents picnickng near the Neuse River, 1902 (image courtesy of

Remember Raleigh - North Carolina State Archives)

existing system overview


The evolution of the parks system’s direction roared in

the twenties. In short order, the city obtained an annual

appropriation for a playground supervisor, and the mayor

and City Board appointed a City Parks Commission.

This at-large group of prominent citizens surged forward

with plans for the development of a parks system and

the maintenance and beautification of the current

landholdings. The decade closed with the General

Assembly granting the new commission the responsibility

for Union, Nash and Moore Squares and the donation of

land for Edna Metz Wells Nature Park by eminent North

Carolina State College botanist, Dr. B. W. Wells.

The following depression decade brought increased

recreation time to all citizens. In response to this demand,

the General Assembly established the Raleigh Recreation

Commission to oversee supervised recreation. In turn, a

Raleigh Recreation Department was created and placed

under the Division of Public Works. The ambition of this

original organization is outlined in their 1938 annual

report, which contained some prescient goals. Among

them were:

1. that leadership was as important as facilities;

2. schools should be used as community centers;

3. public tennis and badminton courts were important;

4. careful consideration of new leisure activities and

the design of the required facilities;

5. increased funding;

6. recreation areas to be set aside in new public

housing projects, and;

7. that Raleigh’s School Board, the Raleigh Recreation

Commission, the Raleigh Park Commission, city

officials, the Housing Board and other organizations

should work together to survey and plan for the

future long-term growth in public recreation.

The immediate result of the 1938 report was the

development of more facilities in existing parks. This

would not have been possible without the financial

assistance of the Federal Works Progress Administration,

which provided salaries and funding for capital recreation


The 1930’s concluded the formative years of Raleigh’s Park

System. A philosophy of service and need was firmly

established, and, more importantly, recreation and parks

were officially institutionalized as an accepted province of

local government (albeit with Federal assistance).

The mission of Parks and Recreation was spread through

several agencies in 1940. In 1941, Raleigh began a program

of centralization. The City Commissioners combined the

Parks Commission and the Recreation Commission into

the Recreation and Park Commission. The following year

Fallon Park was dedicated to the city. By 1950, and with the

redesignation of the Commission to the Parks and Recreation

Advisory Board, the system included 189 acres in the form

of 16 parks, 12 playgrounds and two recreation centers.

2.1.3 Consolidation and Refinement