Hamilton Fish Park
Hamilton Fish Park
In 1900 the park, featuring the gymnasium and playground, was completed. The Hamilton Fish Park Gymnasium is among the most notable small civic buildings in New York City. Designed in 1898 by Carrère & Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue, this exuberant Beaux-Arts style structure is the only survivor of the original park plan. The building was designed in the manner of a small garden pavilion inspired by Charles Girault's Petit Palais in Paris. Behind the gymnasium was a pair of small sculpted water fountains and grass parterres, benches and trees, all arranged in straight rows to emphasize the formality of the park.
Only three years after its opening, the park was redesigned to accommodate more active outdoor recreation such as track and tennis. In 1936 it was overhauled once again, this time featuring swimming as the main attraction. Constructed by the Works Progress Administration, the pool at Hamilton Fish Park was one of eleven that opened throughout New York City in a single summer during the Great Depression. The influence of the pools extended through entire communities, attracting neighborhood children and aspiring athletes and changing the way millions of New Yorkers spent their leisure time. Among the most remarkable public recreational facilities in the country, the pools represented the forefront of design and technology. Hamilton Fish Pool was so highly regarded that the U.S. Olympic Team used it for practice sessions on their way to the 1952 Helsinki Games.
An extensive $14 million restoration of Hamilton Fish Park was completed in 1992 by John Ciardullo Associates. The gymnasium was designated a New York City historic landmark in 1982, and it was converted into a community center containing classroom and meeting rooms for neighborhood groups by 1990. The restored pool reinvigorated a favorite New York summer tradition of outdoor swimming. Basketball courts, handball courts, and the children's playground were also refurbished. The distinctly modern landscaping, such as paved terraces and cylindrical planters, was integrated with trees that survive from the early 20th century.