I grew up on the West Side and both sets of grandparents lived on the south side. My only childhood memory was one time when my grandparents took me there. I remember the lake, a play area, tree-lined walkways, and heavily wooded areas. In more recent years, while my parents were still living at Park Vista, we drove past Crandall Park and the Crandall neighborhoods, which offered glimpses of their grand past.
Crandall Park is named after Nelson Crandall, who made his and his family’s fortune working at Brier Hill Iron and Coal Works. He was the secretary for the estate of Governor David Tod, and later collaborated with Henry Tod and John Stambaugh in building the Tod House in 1870. When Youngstown was still a village centered around the downtown, Tod bought a farm north of the village, bordering on the Trumbull County line at Gypsy Lane that also included the land that would become Crandall Park proper surrounded by many of the stately homes that survive to this day.
Beginning in 1904 The North Heights Land Company and the Realty Guarantee Trust Company acquired the land and began development of the area. The Realty Trust donated the ravined area of Andrews Hollow, the portion west of Fifth Avenue becoming Crandall Park, named after the Crandall family. They extended Fifth Avenue north to Gypsy Lane and built a collection of some of the grandest homes in Youngstown along the roads surrounding the park and nearby areas, homes that would be the residences of industry magnates like Thomas Bray, president of Republic Iron and Steel, Frank Purnell, President of Youngstown Sheet and Tube, Edward Clark, president of Newton Steel, and George Brainard, president of General Fireproofing. Philip Wick, Myron Arms, Joseph Schwebel, and Joseph Lustig also owned homes in the area.
As far as Crandall Park itself, by 1925 the lake had been created, tennis courts and picnic areas built. A pavilion was built in 1930, and the picnic shelter in 1936. As the photo above indicates, the hills of the ravine provided a great place for sledding, and when the lake froze, a great place for ice skating. The shelter and the picnic areas offered many locations for family gatherings. The park vied with Wick Park for the honor of most scenic city park in Youngstown.
Most of us remember this area with memories like these. Like other parts of Youngstown, it suffered decline with the mill closures in the late 1970’s. Housing stock south of the park has decline more but the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation has been working with neighborhood residents since 2014 to renew the area. The area has been designated the Crandall Park-Fifth Avenue Historic District. In 2017 the pavilion in Crandall Park was reopened after renovations.
One hopes this work continues. Grand homes, a beautiful park for community gatherings. Shaded streets and boulevards. A reminder of Youngstown’s grandeur, and perhaps a sign of hope for the future.