It’s been getting pretty hot in New York the past few days. But fear not: the McCarren Park Pool is back in business for 2016. The pool, when originally opened in 1936 by Robert Moses, was one of the largest public pools in the world (three times the size of a standard Olympic pool). It has a capacity of 6,800 swimmers, although it’s now capped at 1,500. The pool was part of a Works Progress Administration project, when Robert Moses opened one pool every week during the summer of 1936.
In 1979, the city received funding to renovate the pools that Moses had opened more than 40 years later. In 1983, the McCarren Park pool was closed for renovation, although the project was put on hold indefinitely. Community members protested the pool’s renovation, claiming that it attracted undesirables and petty crime, and successfully prevented the renovation from happening. The pool sat fenced up and unused until Mayor Bloomberg put in a bid for New York to host the 2012 Olympics, proposing to use the pool as a training facility for Olympic swimmers. The proposal to renovate the pool didn’t come to fruition, but it was re-opened as an entertainment space in 2005. During this time, “pool parties” were held every weekend in the summer time, which attracted hipsters with PBR, indie acts and slip-n-slides. Nonetheless, it wasn’t opened as an actual pool, partially due to speculation that the peeling paint on the surface of the pool contained lead. In 2008, nearly 30 years after funding started, a $50 million proposal to renovate the pool was approved, and it finally reopened in 2012.
80 years after it was first opened, McCarren Park’s pool is open daily from 11-3 and 4-7. It’s fun to visit, but there are still rules to bear in mind. For one, you need a combination lock to hold your stuff, but lockers are small, so pack lightly. The only items allowed on the pool deck are towels and sunscreen, and t-shirts have to be white. Colors and patterns are strictly prohibited, partially because of potential gang violence and sports rivalries. However, the best part is that the pool is free. If you’d like to learn more, you can click here!