Johnson Park Restoration

Memories of Eldridge R. Johnson Park:
A Collection of Stories

Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us.  Oscar Wilde

If you would like to share your memories of Johnson Park,
please contact us and your story will be posted here!

Either email or send your comments (and pictures) to:
Cathy Donovan
, Communications Office
Rutgers University- 303 Cooper Street
Camden, N.J. 08102

Thank you!
audio file Click here to sing along the " Camden Song" (50 sec)
Jim Bessing (age 77), a former Camden resident, recalls playing at "Cooper Park."
Camden boy playing at Johnson Park"In the heat of summer in the City, Johnson Park (or actually Cooper Park, as most North Camden kids called it then) was a place where a lot of kids gathered to romp in the fountain and climb on all the statues that surrounded the center area. Peter was my favorite but my mind played a trick on me as I seemed to think it was much larger than it is. I remember a few years ago, when someone stole the statue, I told my kids about the days when I romped around the park and cooled off in the fountain. I wasn't much for using the library but did go in it a few times. "

Dani Annise (age 79), long-time Camden resident, remembers the park:
"Johnson Park on Cooper Street - o, yes, what a lovely place it was. As a little girl I went there almost every day during the summer. We went swimming in the pool. The water was pretty low, maybe one foot to three feet deep -- we loved it. On either side of the pool were pavilions with columns on the side. We used them as bathhouses to get changed; the one side was for the boys and the other side for the girls. At the end of the pool there was a statue and a little bridge to get to it. And there was a huge building, the magnificent library, what a beautiful place. They had a special room for children -with the door open that the parents could see us- but we were separate, with small chairs and tables and books for children. Across the street was the RCA Victor factory. People who worked there came over to have lunch in the park. What a grand place Johnson Park used to be. "

Dani Annise (age 79)*

* Ms. Annise still works for the City of Camden. She was secretary to two Camden mayors, Mayor Nardi and Mayor Errichetti and lived all her life in the city.

A life-long Camden resident's memories of Johnson Park
" I didn't - I wasn't allowed to go to the pool when I was young. We lived in a different neighborhood - my family was the first black family on the block. Our Hispanic neighbors were nice. In other neighborhoods lived Poles, Italians - I think they worked at Campbell's Soup or RCA. We didn't go to these neighborhoods to play. But, when I was a teenager things started to change, we went to the Public Library at Johnson Park and we saw plays in the Whitman Center. By then (around 1966), the pool had been filled in with dirt. I think they put a fence around the pool, but I'm not so sure now. "

James B. (age 54)


50 Years of Community Building in Camden, NJ

Cooper Grant partyThe Camden Community website," seeks to tell the story of Camden, NJ, as written by people who lived it.

All residents of Camden, NJ, past and present are invited to contribute to this site.

>>> Click here to share your memories.

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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