Landmarks designates civic construction projects

Two WPA projects and firehouse designated. On June 20, 2006, Landmarks unanimously approved the designation of the Bronx’s Orchard Beach Bathhouse, Queen’s Astoria Play Center and a 1904 firehouse in Long Island City, Queens, home to Fire Engine Company No. 258, Ladder Company No. 115.

Both constructed in the midst of the Great Depression under Parks Commissioner Robert Moses and using the Works Progress Administration funds, the Orchard Beach Bathhouse and the Astoria Play Center received support from Landmarks as great examples of public architecture. The Astoria Play Center’s main feature, its 6,200 capacity pool, opened on July 4th in 1936 and has expansive views of the Triborough and Hell Gate bridges. It and the Orchard Beach Bathhouse, a giant recreational center with a 200,000-square-foot bathhouse, concessions, a beach and promenade, remain in operation under the Parks Department. In their comments before the vote, Landmarks commissioners stressed the importance of preserving examples of the City’s large civic construction projects.

Designed by Bradford Lee Gilbert, the firehouse for Engine No. 258, Ladder Company No. 115, a Dutch Renaissance Revival-style structure, features a prominent step gable and a wide 50-foot, bond brick facade. Located at 10-38 47th Avenue, its commission grew out of a city campaign in the early 1900s to improve firefighter’s working conditions. Voting to approve, Landmarks Chair Robert B. Tierney acknowledged FDNY Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta for his assistance and promised that Landmarks and FDNY staffs would continue to catalogue FDNY’s 221 buildings for consideration. Engine Company No. 258 became the 16th firehouse designated as an individual landmark.

LPC: Orchard Beach House and Promenade (LP-2167) (June 20, 2006); LPC: Astoria Play Center (LP-2196) (June 20, 2006); LPC: Engine Company No. 258, Ladder Company No. 115, 10-38 47th Avenue (LP-220) (June 20, 2006).

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