Orchard Beach (Bronx)
Panoramic view of Orchard Beach, facing from the bathhouse pavilion
|Location||The Bronx, New York|
|Length||1.1 miles (1.8 km)|
|Area||115-acre (47 ha)|
|Patrolled by||New York City Department of Parks and Recreation|
Orchard Beach is a public beach in the Bronx, New York City. The beach is part of Pelham Bay Park and is situated on the western end of Long Island Sound. Sometimes called the Bronx Riviera, Orchard Beach is the only beach in the Bronx.
The 115-acre (47 ha), 1.1-mile-long (1.8 km) beach consists of a 13-section sandy shorefront, a hexagonal-block promenade, a central pavilion with food stores and specialty shops, two playgrounds, two picnic areas, a large parking lot, and 26 courts for basketball, volleyball, and handball. It is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
Orchard Beach was built as part of Pelham Bay Park and was originally located on the eastern shore of Rodman's Neck peninsula. In the 1930s, New York City parks commissioner Robert Moses announced a project to expand Orchard Beach northward by connecting several islands in Pelham Bay Park via landfill. The expanded beach was dedicated in 1936 and opened in 1937, along with its pavilion and concession stands. Renovations to the beachfront were made in subsequent years. Sand was restored to the beach in 1964 and again in 1995.
The New York City government acquired the land for Pelham Bay Park in 1887, and the park was officially established in 1888. In spring 1902, in order to accommodate vacationers, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation removed two former houses in Pelham Bay Park and used the remaining wood to build free bathhouses, which were used by about 700 bathers per day during that summer.:116 (PDF p.85) Around 1903, the nearby Hunter Island became a popular summer vacation destination. Due to overcrowding on Hunter Island, NYC Parks opened a campsite two years later at Rodman's Neck southwest of the island, with 100 bathhouses. At the time, Orchard Beach was a tiny recreational area on the northeast tip of Rodman's Neck. Orchard Beach was extended by 400 feet (120 m) that year, doubling capacity; it also gained a new "comfort station". By 1912, Orchard Beach saw an average of 2,000 visitors on summer weekdays and 5,000 visitors on summer weekends.
Robert Moses expansion
The current Orchard Beach recreational area was created through the efforts of Robert Moses in 1934, and was built along with the Split Rock golf course. Fiorello La Guardia had become the mayor of New York City and named Moses as the city's Parks Commissioner. Immediately after his position was announced, Moses ordered engineers to inventory every park in the city to see what needed renovating. He devised plans for a new Orchard Beach recreation area after he saw the popularity of the Hunter Island campsite. At the time, the beach was a narrow sand bar connecting Hunter Island and Rodman's Neck. There was a retaining wall behind the sand bar, and breakwaters allowed water from the Long Island Sound to pass through the sand bar. The retaining wall frequently flooded at high tide, which made the sand bar effectively unusable most of the time. There were approximately 600 families using the bungalows near the sand bar, as well as 30-foot-high (9.1 m) bathhouses made of granite pavers.
On February 28, 1934, Moses announced a plan for an upgraded beach at Pelham Bay, which had been inspired by the design of Jones Beach on Long Island. The beach would be reconstructed through the Works Progress Administration (WPA) under the 1930s New Deal program, along with another project to construct the nearby Pelham Bay Golf Course. Moses canceled 625 camping leases in March 1934 so the beach could be built on the land. Most of the campers were connected to the Tammany Hall political structure that had ruled the city at one point. Campers protested to the mayor, but to no avail. Campers subsequently filed a lawsuit against the city, which concerned Moses's right to cancel the leases. The courts ruled in favor of the city in May 1934, and the site was cleared of campers in June.
The beach was designed by Gilmore David Clarke and Aymar Embury II. To make the beach longer and more perfectly crescent-shaped, Moses decided that Hunter Island and the Twin Islands be connected to Rodman's Neck by filling in most of LeRoy's Bay, located west of Hunter Island. The deteriorated Hunter Mansion was demolished with the construction of the beach. Embury also designed a bathhouse pavilion for Orchard Beach.
The beach project involved filling in approximately 110 acres (45 ha) of LeRoy's and Pelham Bays with landfill, followed by a total of 4,000,000 cubic yards (3,100,000 m3) of sand brought by barge from Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens. Moses had originally wanted to use sand for the new land, but thought that waste from the New York City Department of Sanitation would be cheaper to use, so the material of choice was switched to landfill. Work on placing the fill began in early 1935, but officials opposed the use of garbage to fill in the land. The landfill was placed among Rodman's Neck, the Twin Islands, and Hunter Island. After the garbage began washing onto the beach through the as-yet-incomplete seawall, work on the filling operation was halted. The board allocated $500,000 (equivalent to $9,100,000 in 2018) for 1,700,000 cubic yards (1,300,000 m3) of sand, and the rest of the land reclamation project was done using sand from Sandy Hook and the Rockaways. The sand-filling operations officially began in April 1936. Two seawalls were built: one made of boulders on the east side of the fill facing Pelham Bay, and a smaller wall on the west side facing LeRoy's Bay, now a lagoon. The fill was then landscaped with flowers, shrubs, and various genera of trees, while the naturally planted chestnut, oak, hickory, black locust, and black cherry trees on either side of the fill were kept as is.
The beach was dedicated in July 1936 despite only being partially complete. The dedication attracted an estimated 18,000 beach-goers. Orchard Beach was set to open along with the upgraded Jacob Riis Park in Queens on June 19, 1937, but the openings were pushed back due to unfinished work. Both beaches were opened on June 25, 1937, and the bathhouse pavilion at Pelham Bay Park also opened that year. Orchard Beach was completed in 1938. Later that year, the bathhouse and beach were damaged by a hurricane. Sewage from nearby City Island also seeped onto the beach, and Moses was threatening to close the beach until the city agreed to build a new sewage pipe for the island.
In 1939, one year after the beach was completed, there were plans to expand the beach. The southern locker room was the first to be renovated, with a 150-foot (46 m) extension in 1939. Work was halted from 1941 to 1945 due to World War II. The water between Hunter and Twin Islands was filled in during 1946 and 1947, with new jetties at each end of the beach. The promenade was extended over the fill, gaining its current hexagonal tiles as well as refurbished concession buildings. The extension, opened in May 1947, consisted of 7 acres (2.8 ha) of new land and 5 acres (2.0 ha) of restored beach. Further improvements were made to the bathhouse pavilion in 1952 and to the northern jetty in 1955. A new concession stand was added north of the pavilion in 1962. The beach was renovated starting in 1964.
A proposal for a 3,300-seat outdoor theater at Pelham Bay Park, replacing Orchard Beach's northern locker facility, was canceled in 1974 due to community opposition. In 1980, NYC Parks proposed a renovation of the beach for its 50th anniversary. By then, the beach had become so rundown that there was garbage covering much of the sand, and there were prostitutes and gamblers along the promenade. The $1 million renovation of the pavilions (equivalent to $2,286,000 in 2018) was completed by 1986. After the renovation, the pavilions contained some shops and fast food, with a nature center and museum planned for the buildings. In 1985, parts of Orchard Beach, as well as three other city beaches and Central Park's Sheep Meadow, were designated as "quiet zones" where loud radio-playing was prohibited.
A second renovation of Orchard Beach started in 1995, with a new sand-filling project to replace the sand that had been lost since the last such project in 1964. A proposal for a water park at Orchard Beach was revealed as part of a plan to bring visitors back to the beach. That proposal was effectively canceled in 1999 due to large opposition from City Island residents. A few years later, as part of the city's ultimately unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, several facilities in Pelham Bay Park were proposed for upgrades. The city had planned to renovate the beach's pavilion at a cost of $23 million, with the south wing being used for fencing and the north wing for swimming and water polo.
In 2010, construction began on extending the jetty at Orchard Beach. Approximately 250,000 to 268,000 cubic yards (191,000 to 205,000 m3) of sand were pumped onto the beach to replace sand lost over the years. The jetty project cost $13 million, with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) paying $7 million and NYC Parks paying $6 million. Proposals to renovate Orchard Beach's bathhouse pavilions surfaced in the late 2010s, and some funding was provided starting in 2016; up to $75 million had been raised by early 2019.
The beach is located in the eastern section of Pelham Bay Park. It is the Bronx's only beach. An icon of the Bronx, Orchard Beach is sometimes called the Bronx Riviera or Hood Beach. The 1.1-mile-long (1.8 km), 115-acre (47 ha) beach faces the Long Island Sound and is laid out in a crescent shape with a width of 200 feet (61 m) during high tide.
Orchard Beach contains a 1,400-foot-long (430 m), 250-foot-wide (76 m) center mall connecting the bathhouses and boating lagoon. At the time of opening, there were also nine baseball diamonds, seven football fields, 32 tennis courts, a children's playground, and a field house. Nowadays, the beach contains the Orchard Beach Nature Center, as well as two playgrounds, some basketball courts, some handball courts, and three tennis courts. When the beach opened it contained a pavilion with two bathhouses, a cafeteria, a small-boat lagoon, a 5,400-person locker and dressing facility, and two parking lots with a collective 8,000 spots. The beach could host up to 100,000 bathers simultaneously as well as 7,000 people in the bathhouses. The bathhouse contained an upper terrace, which contained small plants and a large fountain that was removed in 1941, as well as a lower terrace with trees and a dance floor and bandstand that were later removed.
For its entire length, the beach is also fronted by a 50-foot-wide (15 m) promenade with hexagonal gray tiles. Four brick utility buildings were built along the promenade: two to the north of the bathhouse pavilion, and two to the south. At the north end of the promenade is a fence that separates the promenade's end from a rock shelf. The shoreline then curves north, following the old boundary of the former Twin Islands.
Both pavilions were landmarked by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2006. The deteriorating 170,000-square-foot (16,000 m2) eastern bathhouse pavilion, which had been neglected since the 1970s, was closed in 2007 and fenced off in 2009. The similarly sized west bathhouse started undergoing $7 million in repairs. In 2016, the pavilion received $10 million in initial funding toward a future renovation. The next year, $50 million had been procured to fund the full renovation of the pavilion, and by January 2019, there was $75 million available for the renovation.
South of the beach is a 25-acre (10 ha) meadow that hosts the only known population of the moth species Amphipoea erepta ryensis. Another population formerly existed in Rye, Westchester County.
MTA Regional Bus Operations's Bx5 bus served Orchard Beach during the summertime only from 1984 until Labor Day 2015, and the Bx12 and Bx12 SBS services serve Orchard Beach during summer weekends.
- Laws of the State of New York: Passed at the Session of the Legislature. New York State Legislature. 1888. pp. 693–696. Retrieved October 16, 2017 – via HathiTrust.
- "1902 New York City Department of Public Parks Annual Report (Part 2)" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. 1902. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
- "1903 New York City Department of Public Parks Annual Report" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. 1903. pp. 88–89. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
- "Orchard Beach". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 3.
- Pelham Bay Park: History (Report). New York City: City of New York. 1986. pp. 2, 11–12.
- "1906 New York City Department of Public Parks Annual Report" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. 1906. pp. 87–88. Retrieved January 13, 2017.
- Caro 1974, p. 366.
- "The New Deal for the Parks Outlined by their Director; Commissioner Moses Would Develop the City's Recreation Areas And Then Coordinate Them With the State Park System By". The New York Times. February 11, 1934. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- Smith, Sarah Harrison (2013). "Exploring Sand and Architecture at Pelham Bay Park". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- Forero, Juan (July 9, 2000). "Slice of the Riviera, With a Familiar Bronx Twist". The New York Times. Retrieved August 15, 2009.
- Rodgers, Cleveland (1952). Robert Moses: Builder for Democracy (1 ed.). Henry Holt and Co. p. 82.
- Caro 1974, p. 364.
- Caro 1974, p. 363.
- "New 'Jones Beach' Planned in Bronx; Moses Wants Model Resort at Pelham Bay Park -- Orders CWA Work Razed". The New York Times. February 28, 1934. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 2.
- "Work Relief Booms Parks; Moses Pushes Program to Expand Greatly the Present Facilities for Recreation" (PDF). The New York Times. September 22, 1935. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "Park Camps to Go, Moses Announces; 625 Leases at Orchard Beach Will Be Canceled, He Says, to End 'Fine Mess' There" (PDF). The New York Times. March 7, 1934. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 7.
- "Ousted Campers Appeal to Mayor; Orchard Beach Group Urges Moses Order Be Rescinded, at Least for This Summer" (PDF). The New York Times. March 25, 1934. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "Moses is Upheld in Park Camp Ban; Court Refuses to Interfere in Razing of 625 Bungalows at Orchard Beach" (PDF). The New York Times. May 16, 1934. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "Moses Wins Again in Row Over Camps; Clearing of Orchard Beach Sites Is Begun" (PDF). The New York Times. June 12, 1934. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "Hunter Island". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 1.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 8.
- "Parks' Own Polar Circle". The Daily Plant. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. February 7, 2001. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "Refuse Dumping Opposed; Bronx Civic Leaders Criticize Pelham Bay Park Project" (PDF). The New York Times. May 28, 1935. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "Two New Beaches to Open Saturdays; Orchard, in Pelham Bay Park, Although Not Completed, Will Be Ready for Bathers" (PDF). The New York Times. June 13, 1937. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- "Pelham Bay Dam Approved" (PDF). The New York Times. April 14, 1936. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 9.
- Jackson 2010, p. 958.
- "Public is greeted at Orchard Beach" (PDF). The New York Times. July 26, 1936. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "City Beach Openings Put Off" (PDF). The New York Times. June 16, 1937. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- "Two City Beaches Open for Season". The New York Times. June 26, 1937. Retrieved September 4, 2017.
- "Moses Wins Fight to Clean Up Beach; Board Votes to Build Sewer at Orchard Beach After Hearing Threat to Close It" (PDF). The New York Times. 1939. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Historical and Modern Orchard Beach, with a Brief Resume of the Surrounding Territory (Report). 1960. pp. 17–19.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, p. 10.
- Seitz & Miller 2011, p. 132.
- "Orchard Beach Opens Shore Line Extension" (PDF). The New York Times. May 31, 1947. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- 30 Years of Progress: 1934–1965, p. 36.
- "City Halts Plan for Park Theater" (PDF). The New York Times. August 25, 1974. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Rimer, Sara (August 27, 1984). "'Riviera of the Bronx' Shines Again". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Heller Anderson, Susan; Dunlap, David W. (July 10, 1986). "New York Day by Day; At Orchard Beach, Updated Fare". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Melia, John; Gentile, Don (July 26, 1985). "City Sounds Off; Sets new beach, park 'quiet zones'". New York Daily News. p. 354. Retrieved April 30, 2019 – via Newspapers.com .
- Purnick, Joyce (July 26, 1985). "Radios Restricted at Sheep Meadow and 4 Beaches". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 30, 2019.
- Walker, Andrea K. (March 30, 1997). "Orchard Beach May Be Getting Its Day in the Sun". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Siegal, Nina (March 14, 1999). "Neighborhood Report: Orchard Beach; Water Park Is in the Works". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Siegal, Nina (April 11, 1999). "Neighborhood Report: Orchard Beach -- Update; Water Park Plan Isn't Gliding Forward Now". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- Ingrassia, Michelle (June 30, 2002). "Going for the Gold: City Visionaries Hope Their Olympian Designs Bring the 2012 Summer Games to New York". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
- "NYC Parks And U.S. Army Corps Of Engineers Launch $13 Million Orchard Beach Shoreline Protection Project". New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. October 29, 2010. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "Fact Sheet - Orchard Beach > New York District > Fact Sheet Article View". New York District. United States Army Corps of Engineers. June 26, 2012. Retrieved October 2, 2017.
- "City to revamp the Bronx's Orchard Beach pavilion". am New York. January 6, 2019. Retrieved January 7, 2019.
- Brenzel, Kathryn (February 18, 2016). "Bronx borough president kickstarts $40M redevelopment of Orchard Beach pavilion". The Real Deal New York. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Pelham Bay Park Map (PDF) (Map). Friends of Pelham Bay Park. February 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2017.
- "HuffPost Arts & Culture: Bronx Riviera Photos Perfectly Capture New York's Summer Spirit". Huffington Post. August 20, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
- Lawrence, Wayne (October 2013). Orchard Beach: The Bronx Riviera. Prestel Publishing.
- "The Bronx Riviera: Life at the 'hood beach' – in pictures". The Guardian. October 14, 2013.
- Jackson 2010, p. 957–958.
- Caro 1974, p. 508.
- Ultan & Olson 2015, pp. 67, 70–71.
- Landmarks Preservation Commission 2006, pp. 2, 9.
- Gray, Christopher (February 2, 1992). "Sunday Outing; Boulders, Sand, Treasure and Silence In That Faraway Land Called the Bronx". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Slattery, Denis (August 20, 2016). "Orchard Beach landmark renovation fast-tracked, thanks to Newser". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Jorgensen, Jillian (May 26, 2017). "De Blasio: $50M to repair Orchard Beach pavilion in the Bronx". NY Daily News. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Foderaro, Lisa W. (April 4, 2014). "The People's Palaces at the Beach". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- "Overview". Friends of Pelham Bay Park. Retrieved October 11, 2017.
- New York City Parks Department 1987, p. 4.
- Teltsch, Kathleen (November 17, 1990). "Urban Gift: Wilderness Regained". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- "Common Name: A noctuid moth; Scientific Name: Amphipoea erepta ryensis" (PDF). New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. pp. 1–2. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- "Online Conservation Guide for Amphipoea erepta ryensis". New York Natural Heritage Program. 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
- MTA Regional Bus Operations. "Bx5 bus schedule" (PDF).
- *MTA Regional Bus Operations. "Bx12 bus schedule" (PDF).
- 30 Years of Progress: 1934–1965 (PDF). New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. June 9, 1964. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- Caro, Robert (1974). The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York. New York: Knopf. ISBN 978-0-394-48076-3. OCLC 834874.
- "Creating the Sanctuaries" (PDF). Pelham Bay Park. New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. October 11, 1987. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Jackson, Kenneth T., ed. (2010), The Encyclopedia of New York City (2nd ed.), New Haven: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-11465-2
- "Orchard Beach Bathhouse and Promenade" (PDF). nyc.gov. New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. June 20, 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 12, 2018. Retrieved October 3, 2017.
- Seitz, Sharon; Miller, Stuart (June 6, 2011). The Other Islands of New York City: A History and Guide (Third Edition). Countryman Press. ISBN 978-1-58157-886-7.
- Ultan, Lloyd; Olson, Shelley (2015). The Bronx: The Ultimate Guide to New York City's Beautiful Borough. Rivergate Regionals Collection. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-7320-5. Retrieved October 11, 2017.