August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jul    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Stay In Touch

New York’s WPA Pools, Places that Matter

astoria pool queensThis week’s heat wave is sending New Yorkers all across the city in search of relief. Seventy years ago, residents faced much the same dilemma when a punishing heat wave gripped the city in the summer of 1936. Fortunately for New Yorkers then and now, 1936 was also the year that Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses opened eleven monumental pools across the five boroughs. That summer, LaGuardia went from borough to borough, presiding over the grand opening of each pool: four in Manhattan, one each in the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island, and four in Brooklyn. With each ribbon cutting, LaGuardia famously switched on the underwater lights and boomed, “Okay kids, it’s all yours!” Built with money from the Works Progress Administration, the pools were a great feat of engineering, architectural design, and urban planning and over the years have been the setting for everything from amateur wading to Olympic competition. But the city has been true to LaGuardia’s words and to this day, the pools are free and open to the public. With a total capacity of 43,000 people, they are a place where all New Yorkers can go to catch a free swimming lesson and a glimpse of New York City’s history. The WPA Pools are a Place that Matters because each one is a repository of history as well as a vibrant contributor to city life and culture in the present. Visit the Census of Places that Matter to read about one of the WPA pools, the Thomas Jefferson Pool in East Harlem — whose past includes community harmony and racial strife — or nominate your favorite WPA Pool as a Place that Matters. After you’ve read about the Thomas Jefferson Park Pool grab a towel and a friend and visit a WPA pool in your borough. Or, if you prefer to stay dry, visit the Arsenal Gallery in Central Park to learn more about the history of the WPA pools at their exhibit, Splash! A 70th Anniversary Celebration of New York City’s WPA-Era Pools.