Mountain laurel in bloom

Mountain laurel in bloom
Mountain laurel is in bloom at West Rock, as seen on the Gold Trail.

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Looking Back Through a Window in Time


The late afternoon sun lights the southern face of West Rock, as seen in this view
from Valley Street, just north of Blake Street, in October 2015.
An Overview of the History Included Here

While working on projects at West Rock, I have thought of many questions about the history of the park. In particular, I wonder when the trail system was designed, and when certain features were added the park, such as the stone steps on the Red Trail, the stone walls at the South Overlook and Judges Cave, and the pavilion at the South Overlook. I have started to come across some of the answers while doing research online and in books, but still have other questions to be answered.



I discovered online copies of about 20 volumes of the City of New Haven Yearbook from the 1870s to the 1920s. I also plan to track down the missing volumes, whether online or in libraries or other public records, as time allows.

These yearbooks are a compilation of reports from city agencies. The parks reports are typically broken down into three sections: an overview of the parks system as a whole, a financial report for the parks system and specific parks, and an individual report for each park.



Transcribing these old reports for this website is tedious and slow work, as I need to read through books that are about 580 pages long. The reports from the 1900s and later have an index, which can streamline the process. The online versions can be searched by keyword, but this feature does not work in the downloaded PDF versions.

Once I find the relevant pages, I copy the information about West Rock for this website. Some PDF documents allow me to copy and paste the information, but this feature does not work in every one, sometimes necessitating typing out the information.
This website includes the West Rock reports, as West Rock Park was a City of New Haven park until the formation of West Rock Ridge State Park in 1975. Included here are the West Rock-related sections of the overview report, the financials for West Rock, and the individual annual report for West Rock.

Famous Names
I include the names of the park commissioners, as it is interesting to see how long some of these people served, plus their last names appear on roads and other features at city parks, including English, Farnam and Trowbridge Drives at East Rock Park. There was also Simeon E. Baldwin, for whom Baldwin Drive was named, and Gustave X. Amrhyn for whom Amrhyn Field at the foot of West Rock was named.
Among the names listed here, Rice Field at East Rock Park was named for Frank J. Rice, mayor from 1910 to his death in office in 1917.
Gustave Xavier Amrhyn was New Haven’s first superintendent of parks (alternately titled general superintendent), who emigrated from Switzerland. He was hired in 1900 and was still park superintendent in 1922, the latest report I have been able to find.

The East Rock Park reports were also informative, seeing information about the construction of the Soldier and Sailor’s Monument, the Pardee Rose Garden, and the various roads. I will leave transcription of that information to the Friends of East Rock Park.
The drive discussed in these reports is Regicide Drive, the road from the main entrance up to Judges Cave and the South Overlook. Baldwin Drive was built during the 1930s as a Civilian Conservation Corps project.

This is the beginning of what will be a long page on this website, highlighting the history of the park.


Baldwin Drive at West Rock was named in honor of Simeon E. Baldwin,
New Haven Parks Commissioner and later Connecticut governor.
This view is from the Gold Trail, March 2015.
Reports from City Yearbooks




City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1900

Containing Lists of the Officers of the City Government,

Annual Reports of City Departments and Other Public Documents.

Compiled By James B. Martin, Assistant City Clerk

New Haven: The “Mac” Printing Company,
1901

Page 542-543 (pages 555-556 of the PDF)
Commission of Public Parks
COMMISSIONERS
Chairman HON. CORNELIUS T. DRISCOLL, Mayor, ex-officio
President, HENRY T. BLAKE, Residence, 361 Temple Street.
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, Residence, 44 Wall Street
WILLIAM W. FARNAM, Residence, 335 Prospect Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, Residence, 38 Hillhouse Avenue
EDWARD E. BRADLEY, Residence, 353 York Street
Alderman HARVEY G. SHEPARD, Term expires June 1, 1900, Residence, 159 Blatchley Avenue
Councilman HENRY HILLMAN, Term expires June 1, 1900, Residence, 1082 Chapel Street

SECRETARY AND TREASURER, HENRY F. ENGLISH, Office, 132 Orange Street
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, JAMES E. ENGLISH, 839 Chapel Street.

GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT, GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN, Room 16, City Hall

Committees for 1899-1900
West Rock Park,
Messrs. BRADLEY, BLAKE, AND ENGLISH

Meetings second Friday in each month at 8 p.m. in No. 7 City Hall, except in January, meeting fourth Friday, and in August, meeting omitted.

Pages 544-545, 547-548 (Pages 557-558, 560-561 of the PDF)
TWELFTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS OF THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN, CONN. 1900.

To His Honor, the Mayor, and the Court of Common Council:
Gentlemen: — The Park Commissioners respectfully submit the following statement of the work carried on during the past year. But two changes have taken place in the membership of the board during that period, these being occasioned by the expiration, in June, of the official terms of Alderman Harvey G. Shepard and Councilman Henry Hillman. In place of these gentlemen, Messrs. William P. Baldwin, M. D., and Clifford I. Stoddard were designated by the Mayor as the representatives respectively of the boards of Aldermen and Common Council. In January last Mr. Henry T. Blake was again elected president for the ensuing year, and in December following he was reappointed commissioner for the term of three years, from January 1, 1901.
As concerns the care and development of our public pleasure grounds, while their condition in general is quite satisfactory, the ever increasing cost of maintenance effectually prohibits any extensive improvements, some of which are already definitely planned. In this connection it may be stated that a new administrative office—that of general superintendent—was created early in the year, being filled by the appointment of Gustave X. Amrhyn, a native of Lucerne, Switzerland. Mr. Amrhyn brings to this field a long and varied experience in landscape work and gardening, acquired in Germany and France, as well as in the vicinity of New York City. All park work is now executed under his direction and general supervision, the beneficial results of the newly adopted policy being most advantageous, besides relieving the Commissioners of an unnecessary responsibility. At the same time it must be borne in mind that this executive management has added materially to the item of superintendence and certainly should induce more liberal appropriations on the part of the city. One
great need of our existing parks, in nearly every case, is more territory, which at present can be secured atreasonable cost. But the Commission has only meagre funds at command for such purpose; consequently the available course would be the issuance of Park improvement bonds, at a low rate of interest and subject to redemption in from ten to thirty years. Furthermore, it is to be hoped that the ever increasing interest of the people of New Haven in their park system, as evidenced by valued donations, will speedily lead to its extension and greater adornment. In every community there may be found citizens opposed to these playgrounds devoted to the health and enjoyment of a busy people; but in this city today the Park Commissioners fully realize that the great majority feel a personal pride and interest in the work already accomplished.
During the year the sum of $19,361.82 has been expended on maintenance and improvements, while there remains a balance of $3,371.62, mainly representing the amount of various annual ap propriations previously set apart for land purchases. The reports for the several parks which follow give a concise account of the results accomplished.

WEST ROCK PARK
For lack of funds no undertaking of special consequence was begun, yet the grounds were well kept up and a number of minor improvements successfully prosecuted. Besides putting the roads in fair order, several hundred feet of post and rail fence was constructed along the more exposed portions of the Cliff drive, while a number of circles near the summit, formed by loops in the road, were treated with rich loam and then seeded for grass. All the footpaths have also been repaired and improved, especially the one
from Rock street along the edge of the precipitous cliffs, in which the former steps were strengthened and many new ones added, so that now this popular path is in excellent condition, giving easy access to the summit.
At the same time arrangements were made for the immediate use of a large tract at the base of West Rock, belonging to the Hartford Retreat for the Insane, in anticipation of its early acquisition, the entrance from Mechanic street being rendered avail able by building a neat trestle footbridge, eighty-four feet long, over West river. From this bridge two diverging paths were opened across the tract mentioned; one connecting with the foot path from Mechanic street bridge, up the west slope of the Rock to Judges' Cave, and the other turning eastwardly to join the route to the summit from Rock street. In order to make connection with the last named path, it was found necessary to purchase two small strips of land at the southern base, at a cost of $110, and this now affords the shortest and most attractive route for pedestrians from Westville post office to the south brow of the Rock. A pretty rustic gateway has been set up at the new entrance on Mechanic street, adorned with ornamental flowering shrubs; also guide boards at this point and again further along, where the paths diverge. A beginning was made in the contemplated driveway around the southern base of the Rock, from Mechanic street bridge to Rock street, by constructing a footpath, eight feet wide, which also forms an excellent and much used bicycle track over the line of the proposed road. As this path is elevated some forty feet above the plain and river, it affords for one-half its length a beautiful prospect, embodying the new portion of the park, the village of Westville, and the stream below, while that section which passes through the woods is hardly less attractive.
The amount expended in these various labors and improvements, including the purchase of land, was $1,797.69.

Pages 556-557 (pages 569-570 of the PDF)
TWELFTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE TREASURER OF COMMISSION
PUBLIC PARKS. JANUARY 1, 1900 TO DECEMBER 31, 1900.
West Rock Park

Receipts

Balance from old account
$1,066.65
From general park account, appropriated
$1,800.00
From rent of cottage
$54.00
Total
$2,920.65

Expenditures

Maintenance of drives
$304.76
Footpaths
$829.55
General labor
$312.17
Supplies and tools
$199.96
Bridge
$41.25
For land, Gustave Unger, ½ acre
$60.00
For land, Aner Thomas 1/3 acre
$50.00
Balance to new account
$1,122.96
Total
$2,920.65

Respectfully submitted,
HENRY F. ENGLISH, Secretary and Treasurer.
NEW HAVEN, CONN., February 9, 1901.

Two of the boulders that comprise Judges Cave
are seen in this view from the back of the cave.

***********************

NO. 45:
City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1905
Containing Lists of the Officers of the City Government,
Annual Reports of City Departments and Other Public Documents.
Compiled By Ambrose V. Beecher, Assistant City Clerk
Press Of Samuel Z. Field New Haven, Conn.
1906

Pages 594-595 (pages 601-602 of the PDF)
Commission of Public Parks
Chairman (ex-officio) HON. JOHN P. STUDLEY
President, HENRY T. BLAKE

PERMANENT MEMBERS,
Department of Public Parks
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, 44 Wall Street
WILLIAM W. FARNAM, 335 Prospect Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, 38 Hillhouse Avenue

APPOINTIVE MEMBERS
HENRY T. BLAKE, Term expires February 1, 1907.
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE, Term expires February 1, 1908.
HERBERT C. WARREN, Term expires February 1, 1909
HENRY H. TOWNSHEND (Alderman), Term expires January 1, 1907.
ANDREW P. ALLEN (Alderman), Term expires January 1, 1907.

SECRETARY AND TREASURER, HENRY E. ENGLISH, 839 Chapel Street.
ASSISTANT SECRETARY, JAMES E. ENGLISH, 839 Chapel Street.
GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT, GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN, Room 16, City Hall

Standing Committees
West Rock Park,
Messrs. BLAKE, ENGLISH, AND FARNAM

Pages 597-601 (pages 604-608 of the PDF)
SEVENTEENTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC PARKS
To the Hon. John P. Studley, Mayor of the City of New Haven
…The ball ground in West Rock Park has also been in constant use through the season…
…At West Rock Park there has been acquired a strip of land on the south bank of West River, in the rear of Valley street, which will be converted into a picturesque foot path, along the river bank, in the course of next season…
Respectfully submitted,
HENRY T. BLAKE,
President of the Park Commission
New Haven, Conn. January 30, 1906

Pages 604-605 (pages 611-612 of the PDF)
REPORT OF SUPERINTENDENT OF PARKS
To the Honorable Board of Park Commissioners:
GENTLEMEN: — I herewith submit my report for the year ending December 31st, 1905:

WEST ROCK PARK.
In this Park much time has been devoted to forest clearing. The necessity of such work here is very pressing since the welfare of the entire wood land on West Rock is absolutely depending upon its judicious treatment. The annual ravages of woodfires can only be suppressed in this way and these are every year very serious. The park cottage has been supplied with spring water and a sewage drain. The baseball field, near Stone street, was regraded in the most uneven places and many park seats were placed nearby to accommodate the visitors.
The addition of land to this park between West River and Valley street, which was obtained from the New Haven Water Company and other owners along the river banks, has been availed of to create a new and attractive riverside walk on the south bank of the stream, for which purpose a retaining wall has been built along a portion of the bank, thereby not only enlarging the area of the banks, but also protecting them effectively against washing away in time of freshets. It is to be hoped that these improvements will be taken up for completion early next year.
Tables and benches should be set up in suitable places for family picnics or gatherings of school children, etc.
West Rock Park is worthy of more attention than it has heretofore received. Its approaches should be improved in various ways and more paths to different points should be built. The driveway should be top dressed and a water supply is necessary for the sprinkling of the drives. I recommend to this Commission to urge a permanent appropriation of not less than $5,000 per annum to carry out these much needed improvements.

All of which is respectfully submitted,
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN, General Superintendent
New Haven, Conn. January 12, 1906

Page 615 (page 622 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT TREASURER OF COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS
For the Year ending December 31, 1905

Receipts

Balance from old account
$0.03
From annual appropriation
$1,850.00
From sale of wood
$35.50
From fire insurance recovered
$85.37
Total
$1,970.90

Expenditures

Forest clearing
$361.01
Retaining wall, West River
$292.04
General labor
$511.24
Tools and repairs
$100.49
Drives and foot paths
$291.07
Playground
$30.33
Composting
$73.10
Water supply
$91.68
Buildings
$38.52
Land
$75.00
Transfer to land account
$21.81
Balance
$86.01
Total
$1,970.90

Respectfully submitted,
HENRY F. ENGLISH, Treasurer.
NEW HAVEN, CONN., January 12, 1906. 

Lake Watrous and West Rock Ridge
are featured in this view looking north from Downs Road.
***********************

Google books link to this yearbook:

NO. 49:
City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1909
Containing Lists of the Officers of the City Government,
Annual Reports of City Departments and Other Public Documents.
Compiled By Frederick W. Kaye, Assistant City Clerk
Press Of Samuel Z. Field New Haven, Conn.
1910

Commission of Public Parks
Chairman (ex-officio), Mayor James B. Martin

PERMANENT MEMBERS,
Department of Public Parks
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, 44 Wall Street
WILLIAM W. FARNAM, 335 Prospect Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, 38 Hillhouse Avenue

APPOINTIVE MEMBERS
HENRY T. BLAKE, Term expires February 1, 1910.
Alderman EMIL LOOS, Term expires January 1, 1910.
Alderman FRANK KENNA, Term expires January 1, 1910.
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE, Term expires February 1, 1911.
JOHN H. SHAW, Term expires February 1, 1912.

Pages 589-590 (pages 598-599 of the PDF)
TWENTY-FIRST ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONERS OF THE PARKS
Hon. Frank J. Rice, Mayor of the City of New Haven

…An important change in the previously existing park system was made during the year by the abandonment of the Woodfield tract as a park, and its exchange for a much more available, though smaller, piece of land on Valley Street in Westville, as an addition to West Rock Park. This exchange was authorized by an Act of the Legislature in 1908 and carried out by the action of the Board of Aldermen and the Mayor. The Valley Street land was conveyed to the City of the heirs of the late John M. Griest, to whom the City, in return, conveyed the Woodfield tract, the transaction being in settlement of a long standing litigation between the parties. The exchange was not only beneficial to the park system of the City, but was gratifying as the termination of an unpleasant and doubtful controversy with the family of an estimable and public spirited citizen, deceased…
…Several new footpaths in Edgewood and West Rock Parks have not only shortened the distance for pedestrian travel between two points, but have provided new and delightful by-ways for leisurely visitors…
Respectfully submitted,
HENRY T. BLAKE,
President Park Commission
New Haven, Feb. 1, 1910

REPORT OF GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT
To the Honorable Board of Park Commissioners:
GENTLEMEN: — I herewith submit my tenth annual report of work done on the various parks during the year ending December 31, 1909 under your direction:

Pages 599-600 (pages 608-609 of the PDF)
WEST ROCK PARK (Area, 217.96 acres.)
This park has been very well kept and a great deal of forestry work done in the wooded lands. A footpath, which was started during the last year, leading through the woods on the easterly slope of the mountain, has been completed to a certain point on the Regicide Drive; this addition being some what over 770 feet in length. Certain parts of the Regicide Drive have been top dressed with fine crushed stone, greatly i m proving its surface. A small playground has been established in the triangular piece of ground bordered by Blake and Stone Streets, directly opposite the Greist Manufacturing Company.
An addition has been made to the park area, in acquiring a piece of property on Valley Street and adjoining the Geometric Tool Company’s property. For some years the Park Commission has desired to acquire it and it has finally been accomplished through an exchange by the City of Woodfield Park for this tract; such exchange having been authorized by the Legislature 0f 1909.

WOODFIELD PARK. (Area, 45.32 acres.)
This park has gone out of existence through the exchange made for the Valley Street property, as mentioned in the West Rock Park report.

Respectfully submitted,
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN, General Superintendent of Parks.

Pages 607-608 (pages 616-617 of the PDF)
West Rock Park

Receipts

From General Park appropriations
$1,700.00
Grounds and buildings
$22.00
Total
$1,909.20

Expenditures

General Labor
$298.78
Grounds and buildings
$458.46
Forest clearing
$147.71
Drives and Paths
$366.12
Seats
$12.50
Playgrounds
$353.36
Tools and repairs
$102.57
Transfer to Edgewood Park account
$119.70
Transfer to Stable account
$50.00
Total
$1,909.20

This unmarked trail near the Konolds Pond overlook clings to the edge of the ridge. Be careful walking here as the cliff is about 300 feet above the Woodbridge side of the ridge.
***********************


NO. 53: City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1913
Containing Lists of the Officers of the City Government,
Annual Reports of City Departments and Other Public Documents.
Compiled By Frederick. W. Kaye, Assistant City Clerk
Press Of Samuel Z. Field New Haven, Conn.
1914

Mayor Frank J. Rice

Page 652 (page 659 of the PDF)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC PARKS Office 20, City Hall
Chairman Ex-Officio Hon. Frank J. Rice, Mayor
President WILLIAM W. FARNHAM
Vice-President RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE

Permanent Members
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, 44 Wall Street
THEODORE S.WOOLSEY, 250 Church Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, 38 Hillhouse Avenue

Appointive Members
JOHN H. SHAW, 90 College Street, Term expires February 1, 1915
ALDERMAN LOUIS E. STODDARD, Prospect and Harriet Streets, Term expires January 1, 1914
ALDERMAN JOSEPH T. ANQUILLARE, 216 Orchard Street, Term expires January 1, 1914
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE, 46 Hillhouse Avenue, Term Expires February 1, 1924
JUNIUS C. KNOWLTON, 324 Sherman Avenue, Term expires February 1, 1916

Secretary and Treasurer
HENRY F. ENGLISH
Office, 839 Chapel Street

Assistant Secretary and Treasurer
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE
46 Hillhouse Avenue

General Superintendent
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN
Room 20, City Hall

Meetings on second Friday evenings of each month.

Pages 656-657 (pages 664-664 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS FOR 1913
Hon. Frank J. Rice, Mayor of the City of New Haven:
(This report has no commentary on West Rock, but discusses work on Farnham and English Drives at East Rock. I include the farewell from William W. Farnham, president of the Department of Public Parks).
…As on December 31, 1913, my long connection with the Commission of Public Parks, a connection of more than thirty-three years, terminates, this report will be my valedictory. In resigning from the Commission, I carry with me the recollection of many years of pleasant service and I desire to express my thanks for the unvarying consideration, courtesy, and co-operation extended to me by the Commissioners, the Superintendent, and all the employees with whom I have come in contact. My interest in the development of our Park System will continue to the end, and I sever my official connection with the feeling of sincere friendship for the men with whom I have been so long associated.
Wm. W. Farnam, President
January, 1914


Pages 658 and 665 (Pages 665 and 672 of the PDF)
REPORT OF THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF PARKS
New Haven, Conn., January 1, 1914.
To the Honorable Board of Park Commissioners:
Gentlemen:—I herewith present my annual report, giving a full account of work done during the fiscal year 1913, on all public parks, city squares and playgrounds under your direction.

WEST ROCK PARK. (Area, 280.95 Acres.)
Very few improvements could be made during the year in this park, as the appropriations made barely covered the ever increasing cost of maintenance, in which the item of forestry work figures up pretty well. Considerable planting has been done throughout the woods, this consisting in the setting out of certain spruces, pines and other species. An addition has been built to the old barn which provides room for three horses and for the storage of several wagons and implements which are in constant use in the management of the park.

Respectfully submitted,
Gustave X. Amrhyn, Superintendent of Parks, Jan. 9, 1914

Page 670 (page 677 of the PDF):
REPORT OF THE TREASURER OF COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS
For the Year Ending December 31, 1913.
From a budget of $77,052.41, $2,866.51 was allocated to West Rock Park

Pages 675-676 (pages 682-683 of the PDF):
WEST ROCK PARK

Receipts

From general park appropriation
$2,500.00
From rents, sales, etc.
$264.25
Transfer from Fort Wooster account
$102.26
Total
$2,866.51

Expenditures

General Labor
$495.14
Drives and Paths
316.31
Grounds and buildings
1,321.23
Forest clearing
$272.68
Tools and repairs
$110.66
Seats
$29.35
Playgrounds
$321.14
Total
$2,866.51

Hikers cross the walkway over the Lake Wintergreen spillway in this view from the frozen lake in early March 2015.

***********************


NO. 55: City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1915
Annual Reports of City Departments, Etc.
Compiled By Frederick. W. Kaye, Assistant City Clerk
Compiled by William T. Minor, Assistant City Clerk
Press Of Samuel Z. Field New Haven, Conn.
1916

Page 408 (page 415 of the PDF)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC PARKS Office 20, City Hall
Chairman Ex-Officio FRANK J. RICE, Mayor
President THEODORE S. WOOLSEY
Vice-President RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE

Permanent Members
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, 44 Wall Street
THEODORE S.WOOLSEY, 250 Church Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, 38 Hillhouse Avenue

Appointive Members
JOHN H. SHAW 90 College Street, Term expires February 1, 1918
ALDERMAN EDMUND J. COFFEY, 27 Tilton Street, Term Expires Jan. 1, 1918
ALDERMAN JOHN W. MURPHY, 320 Blatchley Avenue, Term expires January 1, 1918
JUNIUS C. KNOWLTON, 165 Park Street, Term expires February 1, 1919
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE, 46 Hillhouse Avenue, Term expires February 1, 1917

Secretary and Treasurer
HENRY F. ENGLISH
Office, 839 Chapel Street

Assistant Secretary and Treasurer
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE
46 Hillhouse Avenue

General Superintendent
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN
Room 20, City Hall

Meetings on second Friday evening of each month.


Page 409 (page 416 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS
Hon. Frank J. Rice, Mayor of the City of New Haven:
… We shall try the coming year a motor truck transport for the longer hauls, noting how its higher speed (for West Rock and Fort Hale) compares with the cheaper horse in economy and efficiency. It may be that this concentration can be carried much further still to advantage…
THEODORE S. WOOLSLEY, President
New Haven, Conn., January 14, 1916

Pages 430-431 (Pages 437 and 438 of the PDF)
REPORT OF THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF PARKS
New Haven, Conn., January 1, 1914.
To the Honorable Board of Park Commissioners:
Gentlemen:—I herewith present my annual report, giving a full account of work done during the fiscal year 1913, on all public parks, city squares and playgrounds under your direction.

WEST ROCK PARK. (Area, 280.95 Acres.)
With several thousand diseased chestnut trees on hand, forestry work had to be kept up as much as possible. A large number of chestnut trees have been disposed of, cut into saw logs, posts, and cord wood.
A special appropriation of $2,000 enabled us to do considerable work on the park drive, such as top dressing, and also to acquire several thousand feet of four by sixteen inch curb stones, a number of catch basin fittings, and about 40,000 special cut dimension blocks. All of this material will make a valuable asset for the coming year’s work, for which no special funds have been provided.
The Park Cottage on Springside Avenue, opposite the Blakeslee Quarry, has been repaired and the interior renovated.
A new fence has been built along the newly established property line on Stone Street. This change made it possible to build a seven foot sidewalk from Blake Street to Hard Street along said fence. This walk is properly graded and surfaced with fine crushed stone.

Respectfully submitted,
Gustave X. Amrhyn,
General Superintendent


REPORT OF THE TREASURER OF COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS
For the Year Ending December 31, 1915.

Pages 417-418 (pages 423-424 of the PDF):
WEST ROCK PARK

Receipts

From general park appropriation
$3,000.00
From rents, sales, etc.
$264.25
From special appropriation
$2,000.00
From transfer city squares
(special appropriation)
$369.30
From transfer nursery
(special appropriation)
$19.33
From sales and rents
$173.25
Total
$5,561.88

Expenditures

For improvements on drives
(special appropriation)
$2,388.63
General Labor
$660.34
New Paths
$43.79
Drives and paths
$258.83
Material
$196.51
Playgrounds
$246.63
Lawns, grounds, buildings, etc.
$876.74
Seats
$37.00
Forest clearing
$295.58
Tools, machinery and repairs
$280.91
Transfer to nursery account
$27.74
Transfer to stable account
$249.18
Total
$5,561.88

Native raspberry plants grow freely along the edge of Amrhyn Field,
named for Gustave X. Amrhyn, New Haven's first superintendent of parks.

***********************


NO. 56: City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1916
Annual Reports of City Departments, Etc.
Compiled By Frederick. W. Kaye, Assistant City Clerk
Compiled by William T. Minor, Assistant City Clerk
A.J. Ely (Printer), 604 Chapel St., New Haven, Conn.
1917

Mayor Frank J. Rice, 220 Sherman Avenue, died January 18, 1917
Mayor Samuel Campner, 21 Eld Street

Page 414 (page 419 of the PDF)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC PARKS Office 20, City Hall
Chairman Ex-Officio HON. SAMUEL CAMPNER, Mayor
President THEODORE S. WOOLSEY
Vice-President RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE

Permanent Members
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, 44 Wall Street
THEODORE S.WOOLSEY, 250 Church Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, 38 Hillhouse Avenue

Appointive Members
JOHN H. SHAW 90 College Street, Term expires February 1, 1918
ALDERMAN EDMUND J. COFFEY, 27 Tilton Street, Term Expires Jan. 1, 1918
ALDERMAN JOHN W. MURPHY, 320 Blatchley Avenue, Term expires January 1, 1918
JUNIUS C. KNOWLTON, 165 Park Street, Term expires February 1, 1919
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE, 46 Hillhouse Avenue, Term expires February 1, 1920

Secretary and Treasurer
HENRY F. ENGLISH
Office, 839 Chapel Street

Assistant Secretary and Treasurer
RUTHERFORD TROWBRIDGE
46 Hillhouse Avenue

General Superintendent
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN
Room 20, City Hall


1916 (published 1917)
Pages 415 (pages 420 of the PDF)

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS
OF THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN, 1916

Hon. Frank J. Rice, Mayor of the City of New Haven:
…The gradual disappearance of the horse drawn vehicle has put the Park Commission in a rather curious dilemma. The drives in the two mountain parks in construction and grade were built for horse use but are no longer used by horses. They are ill adapted for motor use yet the motor car is the only vehicle which desires to use them. Must they then be entirely reconstructed, or must they lie idle, used only by foot passengers.
The way out of this dilemma is not easily found. But the Commission has gone so far as to commit itself to the opening of the main West Rock Park drive for motor car use if it can be arranged with safety. Now it remains for the engineers to tell us whether further top dressing of stone with a binder, the turns being strengthened with Belgian blocks, is enough, or whether total reconstruction if necessary…
THEODORE S. WOOLSEY, President
New Haven, January 12, 1917

Page 435 (page 440 of the PDF)
WEST ROCK PARK. (Area, 280.95 Acres.)
During the whole Winter season the men were kept busy with forestry work. Still a large number of deceased chestnut trees remain standing. All houses and outbuildings have been painted and repaired. Material for filling along Valley Street has been obtained from nearby excavations, which is to be used in raising-the land along the West River bed. A large number of forest trees have been planted throughout the woodland, where dead chestnut trees had been removed previously.
Nothing has been done to the drive this season. No special appropriations were made for this purpose, except for the purchase of crushed stone, which is to be used another year in the rebuilding of the road; for the details of this work the Engineering Department is making a survey of the drive.

Respectfully submitted,
Gustave X. Amrhyn,
General Superintendent


Page 422 (page 427 of the PDF)
WEST ROCK PARK

Receipts

From general park appropriation
$3,500.00
From rent and storage
$502.00
Total
$4,002.00

Expenditures

General Labor
$457.01
New drives and paths
$529.00
Drives and paths
$221.06
Buildings
$666.12
Playgrounds
$124.66
Lawns, grounds, etc.
$568.19
Tools, machinery and repairs
$144.88
Transfer to zoo account
$300.00
Transfer to stable account
$623.17
Total
$4,002.00

East Rock and New Haven, along with the woods of West Rock in this view from the overlook on the Red Trail of Farm Brook Reservoir, partially seen at left.

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Google books link to this yearbook:

NO. 58 -
City Year Book of the City Of New Haven for 1918
Containing Lists of the Officers of the City Government,
Annual Reports of City Departments and Other Public Documents.
Compiled By Hugh J. Murphy, Assistant City Clerk
S. Z. Field, Printer, 44 Crown St., New Haven, Conn.
1919
Mayor David E. Fitzgerald

Page 19 (page 28 of the PDF)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC PARKS Office 20, City Hall
Chairman Ex-Officio MAYOR DAVID E. FITZGERALD
President THEODORE S. WOOLSEY
Vice-President JUNIUS C. KNOWLTON

Permanent Members
SIMEON E. BALDWIN, 44 Wall Street
THEODORE S.WOOLSEY, 250 Church Street
HENRY F. ENGLISH, 38 Hillhouse Avenue

Appointive Members
JOHN H. SHAW 90 College Street, Term expires February 1, 1921
HAYES Q. TROWBRIDGE 100 Edgehill Road, Term expires February 1, 1920
ALDERMAN HENRY H. GRISWOLD, 143 Huntington Avenue, Term Expires Jan. 1, 1920
ALDERMAN HARRY W. HITCHCOCK, 459 Ellsworth Avenue, Term expires January 1, 1920
JUNIUS C. KNOWLTON, 324 Sherman Avenue, Term expires February 1, 1922

Secretary and Treasurer
HENRY F. ENGLISH
Office, 839 Chapel Street

Assistant Secretary and Treasurer
HAYES Q. TROWBRIDGE
100 Edgehill Road

General Superintendent
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN
Room 20, City Hall

Pages 433-434 (pages 446-447 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS
Hon. David E. FitzGerald, Mayor of the City of New Haven.
Sir: — In making this report to you of the problems and prospects of the city park system, I am obliged to confess that the past year has been a disappointing one. We had much important work begun or planned and little has been accomplished. Not only has help been dear and inefficient; it was not to be had. We have not therefore maintained the parks as they should be kept; we have not finished the Regicide Drive; ….
…two months work will finish the drive to Judges Cave;

Respectfully submitted,
THEODORE S WOOLSEY. President N.H. Commission of Public Parks

Pages 453-454 (pages 466-467 of the PDF)
REPORT OF THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF PARKS
New Haven, Conn., December 31, 1918.
To the Honorable Board of Park Commissioners:
Gentlemen:—I herewith present my annual report, giving a detailed account of work done on the parks and squares under your direction during the past year.

WEST ROCK PARK (Area 286.22 Acres)
This park has also suffered its share in the maintenance, which was quite noticeable. An effort to accomplish a thorough forest clearing, viz: to cut out all diseased chestnut and other trees succeeded fairly well. A lot of logs were sawed up into useful lumber of all sorts, while small timber was converted into fence posts and cord-wood. Later in the season the large open lot opposite Springside Home was cleared of all brush, leaving it in good condition, with a growth of young cedars, which in New England characteristically adorn the Hillsides.
In June work began on the Regicide Drive and continued until November. The upper section of the Drive, upon which we worked, involved a lot of rock-cutting and blasting and also required, in some places, the building of heavy, retaining walls; the expense of all of which this year amounted to  $9,905.00. Labor conditions and prices of material figure largely in this amount. About 250 linear feet of the Drive remains to be done to complete it as far as Judge's Cave. I hope the remainder of the road leading from this point to the front of the Rock will be re-built at once, in order to open to automobiles the whole length which leads to one of the most picturesque points of view in this State and will afford visitors of this city the fairest conception of the charming location of New Haven.
Efforts must be made to convince the city authorities of the immediate necessity of re-constructing the roadway from Springside Home to the Park entrance, upon which will hinge the use of the park when completed.

Respectfully submitted,
GUSTAVE X. AMHYRN

Page 435-436 (page 448-449 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE TREASURER OF COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS        
For the year ending December 31, 1918.

Appropriations (and Expenditures)
WEST ROCK PARK
West Rock Park Bond, series of 1917, $9,805.85
West Rock Park, $5,915.72

Page 441 (page 454 of the PDF)
Expenditures

For New Drives
$9,929.66
General Labor
703.73
Drives and Paths
1,017.27
Grounds and Lawns
769.79
Playgrounds
263.64
Forest clearing
2,844.36
Tools, material
193.12
Total
$15,721.57


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Pages 477-481 (pages 486-490 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS OF THE CITY OF NEW HAVEN 1921.
Annual Report of the President

Hon. David E. Fitzgerald, Mayor of the City of New Haven.
…Each park has its own foreman, who lives near by. Three parks, West Rock, Edgewood, and Beaver Ponds, are served by the Western Division stables on Crescent Street…
On West Rock itself, the branch of the Regicide Drive which was planned last year has made great progress. This leads from the crest of the ridge southwesterly to the Rock tip where a concourse is arranged to hold a hundred vehicles. The outlook in every direction is spectacular, not matched by any park in the country. It is a pity that the road from Westville, the natural approach to this wonderful drive, is not in better shape.
Respectfully submitted,
THEODORE S. WOOSLEY, President

Pages 498 and 504 (pages 507 and 513 of the PDF)
ANNUAL REPORT OF THE GENERAL SUPERINTENDENT OF PARKS
New Haven, Connecticut,
December 31, 1921.

To the Honorable Board of Park Commissioners, New Haven, Conn.
Gentlemen: I beg to submit my annual report dealing with the work of Our
department which has been greater than in any former year. The maintenance work was carried out to the full extent of the appropriation, while many improvements have been performed with the financial aid of the bond issues.

West Rock Park (Area 286.551 Acres)
The Drive to Judges Cave has been very much used and enjoyed by autoists and it appears that the wearing surface of the road stood up very well so far. Work has been started again on the Summit Drive and kept up all Summer. I really expected to complete this Drive by December 1st; this however failed. While starting to blast away the rock where the parking place is located at the end of the Drive we found the rock extremely hard, in fact so much so that the drilling became real slow and again the retaining and protection wall, which circles the parking space proved to be a rather heavy job. Furthermore water had to be brought to the Summit to feed the boilers, sprinklers, etc. This was accomplished by laying a surface pipe line from the keeper's cottage, on Springside Avenue, to the Summit, and connect same with a 6000 gallon tank. The tank is properly set up on a stone foundation and housed in, in order that it may last for a good many years to come and supply the Summit with water in the Summer time. A gasoline engine and triplex pumps connected therewith was set up at the keeper's place to do the necessary pumping. This outfit was also properly housed in. We expended $21,456.00 for all this work during the season.
A very handsome stone fireplace and concourse was erected by the Camp Fire Girls, in memory of the late Miss M. Fisher, which is located on the banks of West River beneath the cliffs of West Rock.

Respectfully submitted,
GUSTAVE X. AMRHYN,
Superintendent of Public Parks.

ANNUAL REPORT OF THE TREASURER OF COMMISSION OF PUBLIC PARKS        
For the year ending December 31, 1921.
Page 488 (page 497 of the PDF)

WEST ROCK PARK
Receipts

From city appropriation
$4,311.46
Rents
$324.00
Sales, etc.
$170.90
Sales, etc.
$170.90
Transferred from Beaver Ponds Park
$62.11
City park improvement bonds
$23,247.16
Total
$28,115.63

Expenditures

For Regicide Drive
$23,247.16
Drives and Paths
1,660.55
Grounds and Lawns
770.37
Playgrounds
336.42
Forest clearing
634.06
Buildings
309.36
General Labor
1,037.91
Tools, repairs, materials
119.90
Total
$28,115.63

Respectfully submitted,
HENRY F. ENGLISH, Treasurer.
New Haven, February 10th, 1922


This view of Wintergreen Brook is just downstream from Wintergreen Falls,
on the property of the West Rock Nature Center.


Links to New Haven History
Westville is the neighborhood that extends south from the base of West Rock. A History of Westville totaling 29 pages is posted to the City of New Haven website: http://www.cityofnewhaven.com/CityPlan/pdfs/HistoricInventory/NH%20HRI%204%20Westville.pdf

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