Johnson Park Restoration

Eldridge R. Johnson Park, and the former Cooper Library which stands at the park’s center, represent one of the most significant and unique cultural, historic, and artistic resources in the City of Camden and the State of New Jersey.  The site has been designated as a State and Federal Historic Landmark based not only on the elements which remain from the peak of its use in the early 19th century, but also due to its importance as a reflection of a period of Camden’s industrial history. 

Local inventor and philanthropist Eldridge R. Johnson, whose modern phonograph helped launch RCA, donated the Neo-Classical Cooper Branch Library and surrounding Johnson Park to the City of Camden. Built between 1914 and 1930, the complex occupies an entire block near Camden's waterfront on the Rutgers-Camden campus. When it opened in 1918, the site became southern New Jersey's foremost cultural and recreational center. Today, the library houses the Walt Whitman Arts Center and is owned by Rutgers-Camden.

Goals of the $2 million project, led by Cooper's Ferry and Rutgers-Camden, include the restoration of the park's reflecting pools; reconstruction of the decorative bronze fence that once surrounded the Peter Pan statue by Sir George Frampton, which still stands; replacement of the missing balustrade wall in the rear of the park; creation of two small pavilions; and landscaping the park to both highlight the exquisite bronze sculptures present as well as the site's natural beauty.

This website provides a glimpse into Camden's industrial past which, hopefully, will evoke curiosity by the young, elicit shared memories by the old, as well as reaffirm a commitment by all to preserve monuments of public splendor, like Johnson Park, for the enjoyment of current and future generations.

Johnson Park plan
The Johnson Park Rehabilitation Project is financed by the Camden Redevelopment Agency, the Economic Recovery Board for Camden (ERB), and the State of New Jersey Green Acres Program. The Cooper's Ferry Development Association and Rutgers University are overseeing the project.

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