Threatened East River Park Buildings Recognized for Architectural Distinction

Posted on: July 16th, 2020 at 5:05 am by

Comfort Station

The following guest post was written by Deborah Wye, a member of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative board of directors.

Two East River Park Art Deco gems were recently deemed eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places by the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).

Both the Track House near East 6th Street and the Tennis Center Comfort Station between Rivington and Delancey Streets were recognized for their historical significance.

Based on research and an application submitted this past winter by the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative (LESPI), the determination means that the SHPO must review any plans to alter the buildings, including current intentions to demolish them under the East Side Coastal Resiliency project.

Track field house

The buildings were constructed in 1938 for the opening of East River Park, which was planned in conjunction with the new East River Drive. They were designed by Aymar Embury II, the lead architect for Parks Commissioner Robert Moses, during a period of massive construction in New York funded by the New Deal. In fact, the style of these buildings is sometimes called “WPA Moderne,” in reference to that era’s Works Project Administration. Embury was also responsible for the architectural design of many NYC bridges, pools, and other Depression era structures.

Photo: Parks Department

Each building displays remarkable craftsmanship, with colorful terra cotta details that refer back to the maritime and shipbuilding history of this waterfront area. State and National Register eligibility does not prevent demolition, however. Instead, the SHPO works with the project’s design team to mitigate the damage to the historic resources in any way deemed possible. With very few examples of Art Deco architecture on the Lower East Side, preservationists believe it is particularly important that they remain for future generations of Park goers.

All current photos used by permission from Lower East Side Preservation Initiative.

Recent Stories

Armed Man in Wheelchair Fires Shots into Crowd on Madison Street

An armed man in a wheelchair allegedly fired shots into a crowd of people outside a Lower East Side bodega Friday night, police said. Leroy Mensah, 28, brandished a (stolen) 9mm gun outside the Stop 1 Deli on Madison Street and Rutgers Street shortly before 10:00pm on Friday. Officers on patrol reportedly chased down the […]

City Preps East River Park Demolition Ahead of Coastal Resiliency Project

It has come to this. The southern section of East River Park is now fenced off, ready for its destruction and rebirth. Barely a week after a temporary restraining order in place since November was overturned on appeal, the city is now ready to begin resiliency work inside East River Park. Fences are up and […]

Homeless Shelter for Chinatown Elderly Planned for East Broadway

Following a trend set during the pandemic, a former Chinatown hotel will soon be reborn as a homeless shelter. Nonprofits Asian Americans for Equality and Care for the Homeless have partnered to create the new “Safe Haven” facility, located in the former Hotel 91 on East Broadway. According to its FAQ mailer, the new safe […]

LES Father Charged in Toddler Son’s Death After Drugs Found in System

Police arrested a Lower East Side man yesterday in connection with the death of his 22-month-old son who had drugs in his system, according to the NYPD. The city’s medical examiner determined last month that the toddler – Charles Rosa-Velloso – suffered acute intoxication from fentanyl and cocaine. Police subsequently ruled it a homicide. Now, […]

Appeals Court Overturns Restraining Order that Halted East River Park Resiliency Work

The community-led effort to permanently halt destruction of East River Park for coastal resilience took a major blow this week. An appellate court ruled Tuesday that the $1.45 billion project can move forward after a month-long hiatus. On Tuesday, the Appellate Division, First Department upheld the lower court’s decision, and overturned the temporary restraining in […]