City Embarks on $3.69M Rehab of Hamilton Fish Park

Posted on: June 24th, 2021 at 5:01 am by

The city will soon embark on a new project to renovate the Hamilton Fish Park Playground on Pitt Street.

Funded with a cash injection of $3.69 million by City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, the effort will enhance the playground with new features, improved safety surfacing, and more. But appears to stop short of the pool.

Design details will be informed by the community through a series of visioning sessions, the first of which is tonight.

This is the beginning of a likely years-long process. Indeed, Parks Department capital projects follow three main stages: Design, Procurement, and Construction.

Hamilton Fish Park opened in 1900, and is named for distinguished American statesman Hamilton Fish (1808–93), who was both governor of New York and secretary of state under Ulysses S. Grant. It featured a Beaux-Arts gymnasium building designed by Carrère & Hastings, architects of the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue (designated a city landmark in 1981). Behind the gymnasium were two sculpted water fountains and grass parterres, benches and trees, altogether arranged in straight rows to emphasize formality.

But the public amenity went through several redesigns over its century-long lifespan. Three years after debut, the park grew to accommodate track and tennis. Decades later, in 1936, the park saw another overhaul, this time with a focus on the pool. Constructed by the Works Progress Administration, the pool became one of eleven that opened around New York City in a single summer during the Great Depression. (It also served as training grounds for the U.S. Olympic team in 1952.)

The last extensive renovation at Hamilton Fish was the $14 million restoration in 1990.

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