STOVER, CHARLES B[unstein] (1861-1929)


New York City Park Commissioner, 1910-14. Stover’s appointment was belated recognition of his advocacy of parks and playgrounds as a civic leader at University Settlement. As Park Commissioner he established the Bureau of Recreation, which built thirty playgrounds, reclaimed 10 acres of waterfront along Riverside Drive (using stones from the boring of the Catskill Aquaduct through Manhattan) and planted 250 Lombardy poplars on Delancey Street. A shy, complex man, trained as a Presbyterian minister, Stover was instrumental in establishing Seward Park and Jacob Riis Park, and found few causes — from municipal ownership of subways to seamen’s rights — beneath his attention. He also led the opposition to elevated trains. Stover spent his last years developing University Settlement’s summer camp in Beacon, N.Y.

Scheuer, J., Legacy of Light. University Settlement, 1985.
Paulding, J.K., Charles B. Stover. The International Press, 1938.
The New York Times, Apr. 26, 1929 [obituary].

NOTE: Stover was beloved by fellow reformers but was evidently an indifferent administrator, and was stung by criticism in the press. Late in his term as Park Commissioner, he suddenly disappeared for more than three months, prompting a nationwide search. After mailing his resignation from Cincinnati, he showed up again in January 1914, claiming he had been touring cities in the South.