History of Green Bay's Parks

Astor Park

The original plat for the community of Astor included an 8 acre plot to be used for a Manual Labor School. 1 This was never constructed. In 1869, John Jacob Astor's heirs deeded the land to the City of Green Bay. 2

A shelter was erected by WPA labor in 1938. 3 Tennis courts were put in at the request of doctors and nurses at the two nearby hospitals. 4

In the late 1960s the city began a project to construct a wading pool for young children at the park. Bids tendered in 1969 were rejected. 5 The revised project was to include the pools at both Astor and Mather Heights parks, but the new bids that were received in 1970 were Turned down by Finance Com[mittee] Feb. 24th. 6 The next year, $18,895.39 of funding was obtained through the Outdoor Recreation Action Program (ORAP) to cover half the cost for pools at the two parks. 7 Bids were received a third time in December of 1972. 8 Construction took place during 1973 and the pool passed a final inspection in September. 9

Of course, not everyone thought a wading pool was the highest priority recreational project. Even before the pool bids were received, a neighbor across the street from the park protested that the pool would serve fewer than some other improvements. New lights for the tennis courts, and a hocke[y] rink w[h]ere we can play without risk to others … to name just a couple.` 10 A quarter of a century later, another citizen asked, Why is the return to the traditional Astor Park winter program so difficult to achieve[?] It has had a hockey rink there for near 40 years. 11 Despite disagreements about priority and schedule, the park department was active in upgrading facilities both for tennis 12 and hockey, 13 as well as other activities such as basketball. 14

Meanwhile, playground equipment was upgraded twice. Swings, slides, a climbing pole, deck and suspension bridge were included in the equipment purchased in 1987. 15 The equipment was upgraded again in 2002, along with that of several other parks. 16


1 [missing]
2 Transcript of quit claim deed, William B. Astor, John J. Astor [Junior], and executors of the estate of John Jacob Astor to City of Green Bay, dated December 7, 1869; The Plot designated as a Manual Labor School bounded Westwardly by Clay St Northwardly by Porlier St Eastwardly by Eleventh St and Southwardly by Eliza St.; Recorded in Green Bay January 8, 1870. The same deed covers Baird Place, Astor Park, and Astor Place (Fire Station No. 1). PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
3 [missing]
4 [missing]
5 Summary of bids dated December 29, 1969; copy of report of Board of Public Works to Common Council, dated January 20, 1970, recommending That bids dated December 29, 1969, … be rejected; and that new specifications be submitted. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
6 Copy of typed summary of bids, dated February 2, 1970; hand-written note. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
7 Copy of Project Proposal form dated May 21, 1971; copy of letter from John A. Beale, Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, to Chet Miller, Director, Department of Parks & Recreation, dated June 17, 1971; copy of letter from H.E. Wirth, P.E., Director, Bureau of Environmental Health, Department of Health and Social Services, to Clifford Centen, City Clerk, approving the plans for the pools. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
For the history of ORAP, refer to Wisconsin DNR website.
8 Handwritten summary of bids, Astor & Mather Hts. Wading Pool, dated 12/4/72. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
9 Letter, Robert G. Newman, R.S., Department of Health and Social Services, to Chester Miller, Director, Green Bay Park and Recreation Department, dated September 20, 1973. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
10 Letter from Tom Vandenberg, 1114 Eliza St., to Park and Recreation Dept., dated April 23, 1969. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
11 Copy of fax from Dan Madigan to Bill Landvatter, dated December 21, 1995. PRF file, Park Areas: Astor Park.
12 The most recent tennis court reconstruction design, Final Graphics to DPW by PRF, dated April 2005; Final As Bid plan by DPW, 6/30/05; bid summary February 19, 2007. PRF file, Astor Tennis Courts — 2005 Bond.
13 The note Astor Ice Rink was attached to August 1995 site plan for park which includes the rink. PRF file, Astor Park Shelter Modification. (It is not apparent why this plan was placed in this file folder.)
14 Application for payment of $79,182.90 by Brian Henken of Northeast Asphalt, dated January 12, 2004; Proposed plans – BB, dated May 2003; bid summary dated August 5, 2003. This bonding included basketball upgrades at Colburn, Seymour, Edison, Farlin, and numerous other parks. PRF file, Astor Basketball — 2003 Bond.
15 Hand summary of quotes or equipment dated March 6, 1987; plans, specifications, and user manuals from Miracle Recreation Equipment Co. (Monett, MO). PRF file, Astor Play 87.
16 Budget, quotes, specifications, and proposals; request for quotation to Gerber Leisure Products (Madison, WI) dated March 28, 2002; specifications for Landscape Structures product marked as purchased structure and dated March 29, 2002. (The quote summary included Danz, Fort Howard, Colburn, and Marquette Parks.) PRF file, Astor Play 2002.

Only annotated statements have been verified. Any other historical statements are unverified and based on personal knowledge or informal notes kept by the Green Bay Parks, Recreation & Forestry Department.
Last update: May, 2011
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