Photo of the Floating Pool Lady in Baretto Point Park by Danny Avila for NYC Parks
Outdoor public pools will be closed all summer as the city looks to make major budget cuts amid the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Thursday. Facing a staggering $7.4 billion loss in tax revenue, the city plans to make over $2 billion in cuts to its executive budget. According to the mayor, closing the pools for the 2020 season, which runs from late June to Labor Day, will save the city $12 million.
All photos courtesy of NYC Parks
To coincide with the opening of all 53 public pools yesterday, the city’s ever cool and joyful parks commissioner Mitchell Silver launched the Cool Pools NYC pilot program. The initiative gave a colorful makeover to five outdoor pools, one for each borough, in underserved neighborhoods. Prior to Cool Pools NYC, none of these sites had a major renovation since they were built in the 1970s. In addition to the cheery paint jobs, these pools have been outfitted with polar-themed art, lounge chairs, and landscaping and will offer drop-in fitness classes for adults and obstacle courses and scavenger hunts for kids. Read more
On June 24, 1936, thousands of Lower East Siders turned out for a spectacle the likes of which New York had never seen. They jammed Hamilton Fish Park, filled Pitt Street, and perched on surrounding fire-escapes and rooftops to get a glimpse. With great fanfare (and the swim stylings of the Jones Beach Water Troupe) Mayor La Guardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses officially opened Hamilton Fish Pool. The dedication kicked off New York’s “Summer of Pools.” One by one, for each week of the summer, 11 gleaming outdoor pools, financed and built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA), opened in underserved neighborhoods across the city, providing recreation and relief to millions of heat-addled, Depression-strapped New Yorkers.
Learn more about the summer of 1936
A conceptual rendering of the pool via Brooklyn Bridge Park
After five years of having a pop-up pool at Pier 2, Brooklyn Heights is getting its own permanent public pool. This morning, Brooklyn Bridge Park officially announced plans to build a pool at Squibb Park, above Pier 1 near the Pierhouse condo. Together with the NYC Parks Department, BBP will develop, operate and maintain the pool and future amenities. Tentatively, the pool is scheduled to open in 2020, with community planning sessions to be held this summer and fall ahead of issuing a Request for Design Proposals.
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Early public floating bath. Image: New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.
With summer winding down, New Yorkers are treading water til fall arrives–with late-season heat and kids that still need to be kept busy, back-to-school or not. The good news: Most city pools are open until September 10. This form of easily-accessible fun has been keeping NYC cool since the early days of the 20th century. The New York Times tells of the first city pools and their origins as public baths as early as 1901–and the even older pontoon-pools that floated in the Hudson and East Rivers.
More on the history of the floating pool, this way