Aymar Embury II Gallery of NYC New Deal Projects - Photo #116 - Williamsbridge Oval Park - Bronx

Photo: Frank da Cruz, 18 May 2017
See Oval Park Gallery

Williamsbridge Oval Recreation Center in Williamsbridge Oval Park in the Bronx, built by the WPA in 1934-37 from granite quarried and cut onsite. Architect: Aymar Embury II.

  1. Electic [sic] Group of New York City-Area Properties Nominated for Historic Designation, Wall Street Journal, 6 April 2015: "The Williamsbridge Oval Park in the Bronx was once a 41-foot reservoir before it was rebuilt into a 19-acre public park in 1937 as part of the New Deal-era Works Progress Administration program, which took on relatively small projects with otherwise unemployed and unskilled workers. New York City received the most federal money for parks in the mid-1930s and, by 1936, more than 70,000 people were employed in city park projects, according to state historic preservation records. Mr. Moses, the controversial urban planner and "master builder" of New York City, searched for any idle or vacant land and found the obsolete Williamsbridge Reservoir in Washington Heights, purchasing it from Department of Water Supply, Gas and Electricity. He tasked Aymar Embury II, who had built several city landmarks including the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and the New York City building at the 1939 New York World's Fair, to design it." Besides this reference, numerous Wikipedia and Gpedia pages credit Embury for the design of the Recreation Center and Gilmore David Clarke as the Park's landscape architect, but definitive official records remain to be found; nevertheless, it looks like an Embury work, with its welcoming gently curving "arms".
  2. Promenade to Cap Huge Play Center, New York Times, Thursday, May 9, 1935, p.15: "The recreation building will be of severely simple architecture in the modern manner. It is proposed to build it of granite salvaged from the top of the embankment. On the ground floor, opening onto the playground, there will be a large lobby flanked by locker rooms and showers. Upstairs on the street level will be a recreation room forty-six feet long and twenty-two feet wide. At the end there will be a loggia, and the roofs over the locker rooms will be utilized as terraces. A distinctive feature of the fašade will be a two-story vestibule behind a row of huge granite piers."