The Grand Boulevard community, once the center of "Bronzeville," Chicago's thriving African-American neighborhood, became overcrowded between the 1920s and the 1950s, and then fell into decline. The lifting of segregated real estate codes allowed residents to move into other, less crowded neighborhoods, leaving Grand Boulevard with vacant homes and businesses. In the 1960s, the government responded with major urban renewal initiatives, including the construction of the Robert Taylor Homes, 28 high-rise Chicago Housing Authority buildings, one of the nation's most densely-concentrated housing projects. To create recreational opportunities for the increased population, the Chicago Park District began efforts to acquire an old coal yard in 1971. After obtaining Community Block Grant funds, the park district finally acquired the land in 1979. Because it had been used as a dump site for many years, the park district had to undertake an extensive effort to remove garbage and debris, and to demolish the site's existing structures. Finally between 1981 and 1983, the land was transformed into a park with a densely-planted landscape, playground equipment, a spray pool, tennis courts, a shelter building, a little league baseball field, a jogging path, and a picnic area. In 1984, the park district named the site to honor Ralph Metcalfe (1910-1978), an accomplished African-American athlete and politician from Chicago. Metcalfe won silver medals in track and field in the 1932 and 1936 Olympics, and also shared a gold medal with Jesse Owens in the 400-meter relay in 1936. He went on to become the first African-American to serve on the Illinois State Athletic Commission in 1949. After serving as Democratic Committeeman for the 3rd Ward in 1952, Metcalfe was elected as Alderman in 1955 and Congressman for the 1st District in 1970.