There is nothing more seemingly antithetical to New York than its armories. In a city where every building strains toward the heavens without much of a thought to width, New York’s armories brazenly buck the trend by being massively wide and extremely squat – which is one of the reasons I love them so much.
My favorite of all is the Kingsbridge Armory, located in the Bronx. Often cited as the largest armory in the world, pictures simply do not do justice to how epically massive this place is. For scale, you could squeeze two full-sized football fields onto its drill floor.
Walking into Kingsbridge for the first time, I had the same overwhelming sensation as when I first visited the Grand Canyon: the feeling of being very, very insignificant.
The Kingsbridge Armory was built between 1912 and 1917 for munitions storage. It was also home to the 258th Field Artillery.
In the 1940s through the 50s, it became a very popular tourist destination, hosting such events as motor boat shows, rodeos, and “doodlebug” car racing (or “midget racing”), pictured below:
Watching the drill deck from the stands, its hard not to picture the rickety wooden chairs populated by the ghosts of the countless bystanders who once frequented the armory over the past century.
The chairs today:
A neat old exit sign above the entrance:
For years, the armory languished in a state of abandonment as no one could figure out what to do with it. It’s only as recently as last October that plans were finally solidified into turning the armory into the largest indoor ice center in the world. If all goes according to plan, in a few years, there’s a good chance the armory will look…well, pretty much exactly as it does today!
The new ice center will house nine rinks, provide over 250 jobs, and become a major new sports center for the city. The building itself is landmarked, so there will presumably be a healthy amount of restoration work thrown in for good measure. Ultimately, a positive turn of events for both the building and the neighborhood.
Sadly, much of the rest of the interior is probably beyond saving, but there are two areas I always get a kick out of seeing whenever I scout. See, below that drill deck, the Kingsbridge Armory extends deep into the bowels of the city.
I honestly couldn’t even begin to guess how far down it goes…
…but you could easily get lost wandering its cavernous maze of endless hallways and storage rooms:
Definitely not something you’d want to be doing if the lights were to suddenly go out.
One of my favorite bits can be found just beyond this area…
…through a door that still bears its original sign…
This is what remains of the armory’s lecture hall:
With a bit of imagination, you can picture how it probably once was. Here’s the original stage:
On the mezzanine level, the last few seats:
Spiral staircase leading up to the mezzanine:
Around the corner is the second remnant – the armory’s old gym (in later years, used for boxing matches):
Again, in a state of dilapidation…
…but the backboards are still in place…
…along with a full gallery of seats. Seriously – hard not to picture those ghosts, isn’t it?
Nearby, the locker rooms:
A few more details. I love this storage room door…
Curious what was inside? Try and make out the scratched-out word and you’ll understand the emblem:
On this staircase leading up to a higher level…
…note the railing number:
The main entranceway is in gorgeous condition, and I really hope it gets preserved:
Upstairs, you’ll find more shadowy hallways…
…with much of the woodwork still in place:
A fireplace between two columns:
Paratus Et Fidelis means Faithful And Ready:
In another room…
…a second fireplace:
Finally, a peak into a rounded room in one of the main turrets:
I wouldn’t be surprised if this becomes a high end office in the years to come:
While there’s always a certain allure to the effects of abandonment, after nearly two decades of neglect, I’m looking forward to seeing the armory find new life in the coming years.
Pretty sure the ghosts are too.
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