Posts Tagged ‘Astoria Pool’

1936: the year of the city swimming pool

May 28, 2012

Mayor La Guardia was a busy man during the Depression summer of 1936, the hottest on record in the United States.

Through June, July, and August, he attended dedication ceremonies at the 11 brand-new municipal pools the city opened that year.

The pools were a monumental achievement. Built with WPA labor, they were safe alternatives for city kids who used to cool off by swimming in the East and Hudson Rivers.

Judging by the enormous crowds seen in these vintage photos from that opening summer, they were a huge hit. The McCarren Park pool (top left), was so enormous, it could hold almost 7,000 swimmers at a time. Closed in 1984, it’s finally reopening this summer.

Astoria Park in Queens offered incredible views of the Hell Gate Bridge and was so state-of-the-art, Olympic trials for the U.S. swim and dive teams were held there.

The Sunset Pool, in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, featured underwater lights, which were flipped on by Mayor La Guardia during the opening ceremony on July 21.

Cooling off at a city pool in Bed-Stuy, 1974

June 11, 2011

An Ephemeral reader sent me this link to Business Insider, which has some incredible photos of Brooklyn in the summer of 1974. They were taken by award-winning photographer Danny Lyon (and are now part of the National Archives).

The collection, making the rounds on different blogs, features beautiful and tender shots of burned out brownstones (now worth millions) and teens hanging out in the park.

But my favorites are the four photos that capture one July day at Kosciusko Pool on Marcy Avenue.

Opened in 1971, the pool must have been the place for neighborhood kids to keep cool, meet friends, and goof off—as 1970s New York sweltered and sputtered.

Scenes like these probably played out every day at dozens of city public pools, some built during the Depression with WPA labor.

Interestingly, Kosciusko Pool was designed by Bed-Stuy native Morris Lapidus, who also designed the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami Beach.

The Aquazanies: Astoria Pool’s kid diving troupe

April 1, 2009

These boys, clad in signature jailhouse-striped swimsuits, were part of a group of Astoria kids who called themselves the Aquazanies. 

aquazaniesIn the 1940s, they regularly put on a diving and comedy show (with props, music, and even animals joining them for some high-dive fun) on Wednesdays nights at Astoria Pool, one of the massive public swimming facilities Robert Moses built in the 1930s.

The group drew big crowds in Depression-era New York, and they had quite a following at different pools around the city.

So what happened to the Aquazanies? According to the Department of Parks & Recreation website, one Aquazany, Ernest Haridopolos, joined the FBI and worked undercover on the French Connection and Abscam cases.