Historic, but not famous

Carrie McHenry Thomas, Parks Department

Carrie McHenry Thomas (1913 – 2013) was the first African-American to work at the Arsenal in Central Park with the New York City Parks Department. She was recruited in 1937 by Stuart Constable, the Director of Parks under Robert Moses.

She worked in Room 100, which was then the Capital Projects division for Parks. She was one of three women working there, and started out as a Contract and Specification Writer. She worked in the Capital Projects division until 1978. She also advocated for the hiring of other African-Americans in the park department including engineers and architects.

Ms. Thomas worked on civic and election campaigns at a time when Blacks were becoming politically active, including campaigns with Hulan Jack, the first Black borough president in New York City, coming from Harlem,  Constance Baker Motley, the first female borough president and dozens of others in her Harlem neighborhood. She and her husband, Richard, were donors to Black charities and civic organizations, including Harlem Hospital Center, the Schomburg Center for Research, the New York Urban League, Harlem School for the Arts and the National Office of the NAACP.

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