Special Places Deserve Special Status and Consideration
Many of us remember visiting Rye Playland as children, and then as parents. It’s a special place — and not just because of its location on the water and its low-key, old-fashioned rides.
A big part of what makes Rye Playland special is its wonderful design and layout — and that should come as no surprise: it was built in 1927-28 by Walker & Gillette, a nationally known New York architectural firm, on grounds laid out by prominent landscape architect Gilmore Clark. Together, the two firms created the nation’s first professionally planned amusement park.
Rye Playland is also an Art Deco gem — in fact, the only Art Deco amusement park in the United States. Its design history has long been recognized: In 1987, Rye Playland in its entirety was officially declared a National Historic Landmark, the highest form of such recognition, giving it the same status as such other Deco icons as the Chrysler and Empire State buildings.
Westchester has to make sensible decisions about financing its public facilities, including Rye Playland, but there must be other ways than simply tearing down “all but a handful of historic rides” as proposed by a recent opinion piece in your pages. Rye has exactly two National Historic Landmarks, and Westchester County just thirteen. Special places like Rye Playland are so much easier to destroy than to create. We hope the County bears that in mind as it makes plans for the site’s future.
- Roberta Nusim
President, Art Deco Society of New York