Aymar Embury II Gallery of NYC New Deal Projects - Photo #15 - Orchard Beach - Bronx

Photo: Frank da Cruz, July 29, 2014.
See Orchard Beach gallery

Orchard Beach bathhouse sign
Orchard Beach bathhouse sign 2014
Orchard Beach, Pelham Bay, Bronx, New York, “The Bronx Riviera”, created by the federal Work Projects Administration (WPA) from a plan developed in 1934 by NYC Parks Department architects, landscape architects, and engineers paid by the federal Civil Works Administration (CWA), among them architect Aymar Embury II, who designed the bathhouse and promenade (seen at left in the photo above). Embury is credited in the sign posted at the site (left; click to enlarge it) and the references below. And as noted in most of the references, and in the main Orchard Beach gallery at this site, the bathhouse has been in a serious state of decay for decades and has been closed since 2007. A $50,000,000 redevelopment project was announced by the City in 2017[5] with another $6 million added by the Bronx Borough President in 2019[6].

LET US HOPE that the renovation includes an exhibit explaining how this massive project — Beach, Bathhouse, Pavilion, outbuildings, game courts, landscaping, parking lot, infrastructure, and all the rest — was designed and engineered by architects, and built by workers, paid by the federal New Deal, and how none of it would exist without the New Deal.

  1. Orchard Beach Bathhouse and Promenade, New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006/06/06 #377 LP-2197: "Constructed 1934-37; Aymar Embury II, Consulting Architect; Gilmore D. Clarke and Michael Rapuano, Consulting Landscape Architects."
  2. A Landmark Pavilion at Orchard Beach — past, present, and future (announcing a 2012 exhibit), New York Public Library website, accessed 15 November 2019: "Recognized by the New York Landmarks Preservation Commission as 'among the most remarkable public recreational facilities ever constructed in the United States,” Orchard Beach is a site to be celebrated. It was seventy-five years ago, on July 25, 1936, that the Beach was dedicated, even though its grand Pavilion would not be completed until the following summer. This structure, designed by Aymar Embury II, who was Parks Department Consulting Architect at the time, is considered an Art Deco monument combining Moderne and classical features."
  3. A High-Minded Pavilion for a Day on the Sand, New York Times, 24 September 2011, p.RE4: "Robert Moses' oversize stamp on New York City in the 1930s included not only 11 huge swimming pools, but also beaches, among them Orchard, half a mile of white sand in a great curve facing Long Island Sound, northeast of City Island. Moses played the federal relief programs as if they were his; at one point he had 69,000 men working on projects. At Orchard Beach he worked with Aymar Embury II, a Princeton-trained engineer who was also a discriminating designer of gentry-class clubs and private houses." [The beach is a mile long, not half a mile.]
  4. In Bronx, a Beach That Moses Build, New York Times, 27 January 2013, Section MB, p.2: "In winter 1934, Robert Moses, then parks commissioner, brought Gilmore D. Clarke and Aymar Embury II, who were the department’s consulting landscape architect and architect, out in his Packard to see what they could make of the place. At the time, the beach was just a sandbar between a cluster of islands to the north and Rodman's Neck. In just two years, they used landfill to build 115 new acres for the park and created the 1.1-mile-long beach that exists today. The bathhouse pavilion that Embury designed was completed in 1937, the year after Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia celebrated the opening of Orchard Beach with 10,000 New Yorkers and a lot of fireworks. The colonnaded structure has two wings embracing a central plaza and once housed restaurants, shops, showers and changing rooms."
  5. Mayor Announces $50 Million Redevelopment of Orchard Beach Pavilion, Cityland, New York School of Law, 05/31/2017.
  6. Bronx Borough President Allocates an Extra $6 Million to Restore Orchard Beach Pavilion, Cityland, New York School of Law, 08/01/2019.