The Kingsbridge Armory: From a Hot Weapons Depot to a Cold Entertainment Center
If you have been to the Bronx several times already, you may have grown accustomed to seeing a massive red-brick building that takes up a two-hectare block. This building is the Kingsbridge Armory.
The History of the Kingsbridge Armory
The United States is known as one of the most powerful nations in the world. Throughout history, the U.S. has waged wars or has lent its army to ally with different nations to defeat imperialist nations that want to conquer more than their fair share of land and resources. Because of this, the U.S. has prepared for war numerous times. With war, you will need to equip your military with the necessary weapons to become successful at every battle. This is the reason why the U.S. has so many armories across its states. The largest armory of the United States is located in Kingsbridge, Bronx, New York. Known as the Kingsbridge Armory, it is also considered the largest military armory in the world.
The construction of the Kingsbridge Armory began in 1912 and took five years to complete. The armory architect was Lewis Pilcher, who envisioned a Romanesque building emphasizing practical military usage. When it was completed, the armory stands 9-stories tall with a red brick tower. The Kingsbridge Armory roofing is round-arched and made up of metal similar to the designs of other armories. The quality of the brickwork is one of the finest in the city of New York. The armory’s interior features a 17,000 square meter hall used for drills and an auditorium that can seat up to eight hundred soldiers. There are also two underground levels within the armory used to store military vehicles and armaments. The cellar levels also housed lecture halls and fitness rooms, including a basketball court and a shooting range.
Military Operations Involving the Kingsbridge Armory
It is believed that the site used to be where the Eight Regiment of the New York State Militia was stationed during the American Revolutionary War that took place between 1775 to 1783. There were numerous military artifacts unearthed from that period; however, the city did no formal archaeological survey to confirm the belief.
After construction, the Kingsbridge Armory served as a training center for U.S. Military Troops. However, the armory became active in the war effort during World War II as a registration site for immigrants from nations at war with the U.S. and the Allied Forces. In 1942, around 10,000 troops were inside the armory’s drill hall for the ceremonious review by Herbert Lehman, a U.S. Senator at that time. After the war, the Kingsbridge Armory became the United Nations’ temporary home until the permanent United Nations Building completed construction.
Kingsbridge Armory was designated as a city landmark in 1974 and soon after became one of the Historic Places under the National Register. With the Cold War over in 1991, the U.S. ended the Kingsbridge Armory’s military use and turned it over to the city of New York for management in 1996. Since then, the city has kept it vacant until a viable option for its use can be agreed upon. In 2013, the City of New York announced that it would transform the armory into an ice-skating center with nine regulation-sized rinks for hockey and skating. The Kingsbridge National Ice Center is set to become the largest indoor skating center in the world.
However, as of this writing, construction has yet to begin.