Orchard Beach Bathhouse and Promenade

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

ARCHITECT: Aymar Embury II, Consulting Architect; Gilmore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano, Consulting Landscape Architects.

DATE: 1934-37

The Orchard Beach Bathhouse and Promenade, which since 1936 has served as the major waterfront recreation complex for Bronx residents, is an outstanding example of the federally-funded public works projects executed during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Located in Pelham Bay Park and fronting on Long Island Sound, Orchard Beach was constructed in 1934-37 during the administration of Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Park Department Commissioner Robert Moses with funds obtained largely from the Works Progress Administration. Planned on a massive scale, its construction required a major landfill and a mile-long seawall to connect Hunter Island to the mainland, creating an entirely new, artificial landscape. Designed by a talented staff supervised by the wellknown architect Aymar Embury II and the noted landscape architects Gilmore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano, the facility contains a bathhouse in a Modern Classical style and a wide promenade, the plan of which was influenced by Beaux-Arts principles. The concrete, brick, and limestone bathhouse, embellished with tile and terrazzo finishes, features two monumental colonnades that radiate outward from a raised central terrace. The crescent-shaped promenade, which follows the curve of the beach, is paved with hexagonal blocks and edged by cast-iron railings evoking a nautical motif. Situated on the promenade are Moderne style concession and supply buildings, park benches, drinking fountains, and modernistic lamp posts. The original and creative use made of these materials and forms, and the careful siting of the facility, make it a distinguished, individual design. Orchard Beach, a major accomplishment of engineering and architecture, and New York City’s most ambitious park project of the New Deal, is recognized as being among the most remarkable public recreational facilities ever constructed in the United States.

STATUS Designated Individual Landmark

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