For many years, decades even, many Bronxites saw Orchard Beach as a place to go and hang out, catch some sun, dance some salsa but never to go into the water because of poor water quality.
Now, the “Riviera” of The Bronx has earned top marks from an environmental group called ‘Save the Sound’ that tests water quality at over 200 beaches along the Long Island Sound.
According to the group, Orchard Beach scored an A- rating and this year and is in the top ten beaches on the Sound which covers not just Long Island and The Bronx but also Westchester County and Southern Connecticut.
And it’s not just this year that it’s gotten such a favorable rating but it’s been getting an high marks for water quality consistently for the past eight years.
“Considering where the beach is in, such a populated area and how heavily it’s used, we thought that was very noteworthy that it keeps getting an A. This year, we wanted to really celebrate Orchard Beach and just encourage people to get out here and come out on the Sound,” said Tracy Brown, regional director of Water Protection for Save the Sound.
“So Orchard Beach is one of the beaches that, regardless of the weather, it’s got good water quality and low levels of that pollutant. So it’s safe to come in and swim in on a sunny day or even after rain, which we can’t say for all the beaches on the Sound,” Brown said.
Also of note is the fact that Orchard is the only public beach on the sound and given that almost 2 million people visit the man-made beach each year, it still managed to beat out almost 200 private beaches for water quality.
This is much welcomed news especially now that the $60 million renovation of the historic Orchard Beach Pavilion is moving along.
Renovations and restorations to the site will include repairing its distinct bright blue tiles, terrazzo floors, a reconstruction of the bathhouse along with the upper and lower loggias, cafeteria.
Even the clocks and lighting will make a return to ensure that the space is restored to its former grandeur as well as the historic compass on the upper level floor of the pavilion.
Designated a New York City Landmark in 2006 designated the pavilion a landmark and stated that it was “…among the most remarkable public recreational facilities ever constructed in the United States.” according to Urbanize.
So while Orchard may not be a piece of the Florida tropics in New York City, as an ad hilariously boasted several years ago, we can definitely brag that our beach beat out the wealthy communities that rim the sound across two states.
Dear reader: Now more than ever, it is important to support local journalism, especially as told by a Bronx-born and raised journalist telling our stories. If you found this or any of our stories informative and enjoyed our photography throughout the past years, kindly consider donating to support local Bronx journalism for decades to come.