PARKS & RECREATION BRINGS AMERICAN BOY BACK TO PELHAM BAY PARK
On Friday, July 22, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe joined City Council Member Madeline Provenzano to celebrate the spirit of athleticism at Pelham Bay Park. The event marked the return of the American Boy statue to the park, as well as the start of a $4.3 million project to renovate the southern section of Pelham Bay Park. Commissioner Benepe was also joined by children from the Schuyler Hill Performing Arts and Cultural program, Director of Environmental Policy for the Department of Environmental Protection Richard Friedman, and Director of Budget Policy for the Bronx Borough President Robert Nolan.
"Today we celebrate the spirit of athleticism," said Commissioner Benepe. "The return of this sculpture will complement the renovation of the tennis courts and surrounding areas, transforming the southern section of Pelham Bay Park." Commissioner Benepe thanked Council Member Provenzano for her efforts to return American Boy to Pelham Bay Park, as well as her extensive support for Bronx parks. Following the ceremony, attendees officially cut the ribbon at the foot of American Boy, then proceeded to the tennis courts for the ceremonial groundbreaking.
The renovation of American Boy was made possible with $238,000 in funding from Council Member Madeline Provenzano. The 14-foot statue was carved from a single block of Indiana limestone by Louis St. Lannes in 1923, as part of the construction of Rice Stadium. An icon of athleticism and personal fitness, American Boy remained as the centerpiece of Rice Stadium until it was demolished in 1989. Fortunately, crews were able to salvage the statue and placed it in storage, where it remained until funds became available for its conservation and re-installation.
To restore the statue, Parks & Recreation cleaned the aging limestone surface, repaired structural problems, and reattached the statue’s head. Following the restoration, American Boy was carefully hoisted and transported to its new location in between Pelham Bay Park’s tennis courts and running track. The colossal sculpture now sits atop a new pedestal surrounded by pipe rail fencing, shrubs, and grass-filled terracing. A commemorative bronze plaque explains how the sculpture was intended to reflect an ideal of youth, and contains the original plaque’s inscription.
The renovation of the southern section of Pelham Bay Park is being funded by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection and the Municipal Water Finance Authority. The project includes the reconstruction of 10 tennis courts, as well as improvements to the Middletown Road sidewalk and parking lot. Upgrades to the tennis courts will feature improved drainage and accessibility, as well as the installation of new entrances, drinking fountains, and fencing. This fall, additional enhancements will focus on the picnic grounds and paths.
The reconstruction of the Pelham South area is part of the $200 million investment in Bronx parks with funds from the construction of the Croton Water Filtration Plant. Parks & Recreation will break ground on several more Croton projects later this summer. Located in the Northeast Bronx, 2,765-acre Pelham Bay Park is the largest park in New York City.
-written by Ashe Reardon
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
"Truth comes to us from the past, like gold washed down from the mountains."