Historic Hamilton Fish Park: An Oasis of Fun in the East Village

Beaux-Arts Community Center Historic Landmark

Run by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Hamilton Fish Park has served the neighborhood of the Lower East Side for generations. It is a great place for residents to come and swim in the Olympic-size pool, play basketball, and romp in the playground. A recreation center offers adults and children after school and after work classes in computers, exercise and much more.

The park was established in 1900, and its gymnasium is one of New York’s most notable of small civic buildings. It was designed in 1898 by the same architects that did the Fifth Avenue Public Library, Carrère & Hastings. It is a classic and exuberant Beaux-Arts style building, and is the only remaining structure from the park’s original plan, and thus its status as Historic Landmark which was granted in 1982.

In 1936 an Olympic size pool was added, built by the famed WPA of the Great Depression years, one of ten others built throughout New York City, which changed the way millions of New York residents spend their leisure time.  The Hamilton Fish Pond pool was so well respected that the US Olympic Team practiced there in preparation for the 1952 Games in Helsinki.

The 4.3 acre park was extensively renovated for $14 million and once again opened for business in 1992. The gymnasium was transformed into a community center with classrooms and meeting spaces, while the newly renovated pool gave a new life to one of New York’s favorite summer pastimes. New landscaping is distinctly modern, but was integrated with trees that have been in place since the early part of the 20th century.