Tenafly, NJ has a 10 acre park that showcases a pond and the historic Theodore Roosevelt Monument. Roosevelt Common is named for our twenty-sixth president, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1924, thirty acres was given to the Board of Education by residents “Malcolm Sutherland Mackay, his wife Helen Raynor Mackay, and his sister, Jennie L. Mackay”.
Originally, the Common’s thirty acres, having been given to the Educational Board, included what any school grounds of that era would include: “an athletic field, a baseball diamond, an outdoor theatre, game grounds, school gardens, a picnic grove, and a woodlot for the Boy Scouts and demonstration center for the Girl Scouts.”
Landscape architect Marjorie Sewell Cautley (1891 – 1954), in 1917 received her degree from Cornell University in an era uncommon for women to attend a college. “In her first project undertaken as an independent practitioner – at only thirty-years old – was a public park in Tenafly, New Jersey, called Roosevelt Common. One of the interesting aspects of this design, which was applied extensively in her later work, was a use of native plants to imbue the landscape with a strong sense of place’. Even today in Roosevelt Park you will still see some of the original plants; sycamore, birch, vibumum, dogwood, wild azalea, and sweet fern, that she used.
At the heart of Roosevelt Common is the historical Roosevelt Monument. This monument, in 2006, was added to the National Register of Historic Places. To understand how important this park is – you will have to understand its time in history.
At the turn of the twenty century the United States was growing up – fast. The census of the day had concluded there wasn’t anymore wilderness. The prevailing attitude was to consume everything and not leave anything untouched. Roosevelt “favored the use of America’s natural resources, but not the misuse of them through wasteful consumption.”. President Theodore Roosevelt made conservation a national issue. The conservation of natural resources is still a hot topic today.
The East was so populated that open spaces were more difficult to designate as national parks, monuments, or forests. Because of unchecked growth, “a strong interest arose in the possibilities of the Garden Cities as discrete integrations of the townscape with communal landscapes.”
Hence, parks began to be a part of the growth of cities and towns. Flash-forward a hundred years and you have Roosevelt Common downsized to 10 acres that includes tennis courts, two playgrounds, walking paths, and a skate park. Also, it is where the annual Independence Day celebration is held.
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Tenafly, NJ. 07670