Bronx’s Orchard Beach ready for Memorial Day weekend


Tyra Figueroa, 10, dances at the ceremonial opening of Orchard Beach in the Bronx
Tyra Figueroa, 10, dances at the ceremonial opening of Orchard Beach in the Bronx on Wednesday, May 23, 2018. Photo Credit: Alison Fox

The Bronx Riviera is ready for another season.

Orchard Beach — New York City’s most popular man-made beach — is being prepped for Memorial Day crowds.

“This is a very special place for the Bronx,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, who visited the borough’s only beach on Wednesday as part of a multi-day summer kick-off campaign. “For people who cannot go away, this is a vacation.”

Created in the 1930s by master builder Robert Moses, the beach stretches 1.1 miles and 115 acres, facing the Long Island Sound.

After its initial heyday, Orchard Beach hit tough times, marred by drug dealing and prostitution in the 1970s and early 1980s. Years after a series of crackdowns, it has become a busy family-friendly destination.

For the first time, Orchard Beach’s massive parking lot will be transformed into a drive-in theater for a free movie night. It will also host fireworks and free concerts.

Bronx Parks Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa said more than a million people visit the site during the busy summer months.

All of the city’s beaches open for swimming on Saturday, with lifeguards on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Silver is also scheduled to attend beach openings on Staten Island, at Coney Island and in the Rockaways this week.

He’s sure to get an earful, though, from Rockaways residents unhappy with the city’s decision to close a popular 11-block section of its beach. Silver said he had no choice because the beach had been shortened by erosion. About 4.5 miles of Rockaways beach remain open.

“It is not safe for lifeguards and it’s not safe for parkgoers,” Silver said. “We had to make a very difficult decision. It’s for their safety.”

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