In the summer of 1936, 11 swimming pools opened in parks across New York City as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration program. These pools “were among the most remarkable public recreational facilities in the country,” according to the parks department website, “representing the forefront of design and technology in advanced filtration and chlorination systems.” The McCarren Park Pool opened on July 31 of that year, designed to accommodate almost 7,000 swimmers; its bathhouse was the largest of all city pools.
Ten WPA pools were renovated in the 1980s, but not McCarren. According to parks:
The pool was closed in 1984 after the facility, suffering from vandalism and an alleged drug haven, became too dilapidated. $6.5 million in funding to renovate the facility was included in the 1984-85 budget, but plans stalled after neighbors successfully stopped the project, worried that illicit activity would return.
A plan in the late 1980s to reduce the size of the pool to accommodate 2,000 bathers and create a recreation center faltered when preservationists clashed with supporters of the compromise scenario.
It wasn’t until 2005 that Live Nation invested in the space, transforming it into a beloved concert venue; Sonic Youth headlined the final show in August 2008. Bloomberg had allocated $50 million for its transformation back into a pool; it has been under renovation ever since.
On Thursday, June 28, at 11 am, the pool will finally reopen as an actual pool, Flavorpill reports. It will be able to accommodate 1,500 swimmers, far below 1936 levels; but as a bonus, in the winter, it will be become an ice-skating rink.
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