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New York City
March 2002

Murphy Center at Asphalt Green Reopens

Asphalt Green will officially reopen the landmarked Murphy Center following an extensive nine month, $9 million renovation on Sunday, March 10th, 2002. From 12 Noon-4 PM, parents and children of all ages are welcome to come to “Murphy’s Fun Day” and join in the day’s festivities. The celebration includes games, clowns, arts & crafts, music, gymnastics and prizes. Additionally, puppet performances of the “Three Little Pigs” by Liz Joyce and a Couple of Puppets will be held at 1:30 & 3 PM. Storytelling by the animated April Armstrong will be at 12:30 and 2 PM and the Sing-a-long Storytellers will read stories and sing kids’ songs at 1:30 and 3:15 PM. All of these activities are free to the public. The celebration will kick off with an official ribbon cutting ceremony at 11:30 AM by prominent members of the community. The Murphy Center is the site of the former municipal asphalt plant.

The Murphy Center will now house five multi-purpose spaces including two gymnasiums and a theater. The not-for-profit sports, fitness and arts center was transformed into a warm, playful sports and fitness facility with state-of-the-art equipment. Renovation highlights include handicapped accessible bathrooms on each of the four floors, new insulation, repair of water damage, and air conditioning throughout the building. The renovation provides an additional 3,200 sq. ft. of usable space for programs, a 50 percent increase.

Asphalt Green’s Murphy Center is home to many of the city’s best programming for youth, including championship gymnastics, soccer and basketball teams. The Murphy Center also hosts free community partnership programs that bring much needed fitness and physical education to public schools and not-for-profit agencies. Over 24,000 children and adults use the Murphy Center each year. The City of New York and private donors funded the $9 million renovation.

“The Murphy Center is where Asphalt Green started. We look forward to continuing its service to all New Yorkers,” said Carol Tweedy, Executive Director of Asphalt Green.

Constructed in 1942 as an Asphalt Plant, the parabola shaped building stands out from every other building in Manhattan. It has inspired powerful reactions, both positive and negative. When intentionally built, Robert Moses, czar of public construction, thundered that it was “the most hideous waterfront structure ever inflicted on a city.” At the time it was landmarked in 1976, Paul Goldberger, former architecture critic of The New York Times, called it “inadvertent but great monumental architecture.”

In 1968, the City consolidated all of its asphalt production at one plant in Queens, condemning the mixing plant to demolition. In the 1970s, the City planned to convert the asphalt plant into yet another high-density, high-rise residential complex. However, both the building and people of the community successfully fought the City’s plan. The concrete arch resisted the wrecking ball for three weeks. “When the wrecking ball came to knock down the building, people stood holding hands to prevent it,” recalls resident Susan Stackleberg. In 1984, Asphalt Green completed the initial transformation of the building to a privately run not-for-profit sports, fitness and arts center. The City retained ownership of the land and buildings. In return for rental exemption, Asphalt Green provides 1/3 of its services free to the community.

Asphalt Green is a 5.5 acre campus on 90th Street between York and East End Avenue. In addition to the Murphy Center, Asphalt Green includes Manhattan’s only Olympic-standard swimming pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, an Astroturf field, and two public outdoor parks open to the public. Asphalt Green is dedicated to assisting people of all ages and backgrounds to achieve health through a lifetime of sports and fitness.

For more information about the Grand Reopening of the Murphy Center, contact Asphalt Green at 212-369-8890 x 228 or visit www.asphaltgreen.org. Asphalt Green’s Murphy Center is located at 555 East 90th Street, between York and East End Avenue.


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