P&S Journal: Winter 1998, Vol.18, No.1
P & S News
Runners Take to the Armory Track
By Kristen Watson
The armory at Fort Washington Avenue
and 168th Street, formerly an overpopulated shelter for homeless men,
is now the training grounds for local runners and Olympic athletes.
The armory when it housed up to 2,000 homeless men.
|After undergoing a major transformation, the facility reopened
as the Armory Track and Field Center, a state-of-the-art facility with an
Olympic-size running track, in November 1993. The track is used regularly
by local track teams and other athletes. According to the center's director,
Edward Small, athletes from 55 high schools and six colleges train at the
armory, and approximately 200 individuals use the track for training at
The armory is also a housing facility, but on a much smaller scale than in the past. Once a shelter for about 1,500 homeless men, the population has been reduced by court mandate to a maximum of 200 who live under stabilized conditions with access to psychiatric counseling and support.
The armory today as the Armory Track and Field Center.
The armory hosted 66 track meets this past season, including the Eastern
States Championships and the Chase Manhattan Mayor's Trophy. "We
probably host more track meets per year than any other place," says
Mr. Small. "We're open seven days; it's a busy place."
|Mental Health Program
a Success with Homeless
The small homeless shelter housed in the armory includes the Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Centeršs Critical Time Intervention Mental Health Program, which has developed a successful model that helps homeless men make the transition from shelter to community living. The model reduces episodes of homelessness and is cost-effective. Results of the program were published in the American Journal of Public Health in early 1997, and a training program is under way to teach the intervention to others.
Mr. Small says Boston is probably the closest site for a track equal in size to the armory's track. "The seating capacity and track size make this a popular site for meets. Our track is larger than the track at Madison Square Garden."
The track is closed during the summer, but the armory hosts other activities, such as a gymnastics program and a Police Athletic League day camp. The track reopened for training in November, when runners were surprised to find a freshly painted facility. "The runners think the white, orange, and blue color scheme makes the facility a lot brighter," says Mr. Small, "especially the new white paint on the ceiling. It covers the original olive green paint from 1909.