Johnson Oak Park
For over 500 years, a lone white oak grew in the heart of the East End of Bridgeport, Connecticut. Over a hundred feet tall and nearly 30 feet around, it gained fame as “Connecticut’s oldest living resident.” It was a place of pride for the East End, and a place where people congregated. Sadly, in 1978, lightning struck the Johnson Oak Tree and the venerable landmark had to be cut down.
Still, East Enders gathered at Johnson Oak Park and defended it as a shared community space. It wasn’t much more than a patch of grass and some outdated play equipment, but it was the only close-to-home park for the 3,500 people living within a 10 minute-walk of Johnson Oak Park and Jettie S. Tisdale School.
East Enders decided they deserved better. Leaders from the East End Neighborhood Revitalization Zone connected with The Trust for Public Land, and then students and teachers at nearby Jettie S. Tisdale School joined in. Tisdale students and East End community members designed a park packed with fun features: a sports field, a community garden, play equipment, a pavilion, grills and tables, and a splash pad. After over four years of community engagement, fundraising, design, and construction, we celebrated the grand re-opening of a revitalized Johnson Oak Park in fall 2018. We then built the community garden in spring 2019 and honored the community park’s first season in June 2019.