Historical photograph of the diving platform at the Astoria Pool
Over more than seven decades, the Astoria Pool has maintained its status as one of the nation’s premier and busiest public swimming facilities. Astoria Pool was one of eleven pools constructed in the CityCity in 1936 by swimming enthusiast and New York City Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. Labor and construction financing came from the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA), and WPA was also responsible for building the pools. The main pool at Astoria Pool was (and still is) the biggest swimming pool in all of New York City, measuring in at a whopping 54,
450 square feet. More explanation is available on Piscinas cerca de mi.
The swimming and diving facilities opened on July 4, 1936, and they were an instant hit with the public. On that particular day, tryouts for the swim and dive teams of the United States were conducted. During the hot months of the year, tens of thousands of people from New York City made their way to Astoria Park. To bathe in the Astoria Pool used to cost twenty cents back in the pool’s early days. (and 10 cents for children on weekends). Free and available to the public as of today are all of New York’s outdoor swimming pools, including the Astoria Pool.
In 2006, the Astoria Pool was honored with the New York City Landmark title. The Astoria Diving Pool, which has been closed for several decades, has sadly deteriorated into a dangerous state due to lack of use. We are exploring possibly converting it from its current use as a diving pool into a year-round performance center.
What occupied this space before?
Local children used to swim in the tidal strait known as Hell Gate, located at the foot of the natural hillside dam in this location. Unfortunately, many of these children perished in the treacherous waters. The construction of public bathing facilities directly responded to the dangers that residents of Astoria and other parts of the CityCity faced in the City’sCity’s coastal waterways.
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How did this field turn into a swimming hole?
The summer of 1936, during the depths of the Great Depression, set new high temperatures for the area. The Parks Department unveiled eleven enormous outdoor public pools that summer, including one, called the Astoria Pool. The Federal Works Progress Administration (WPA), as part of a massive effort to alleviate adverse health conditions and provide safe recreation in predominately working-class communities, provided funding for the heroically scaled pools project.
Not only were the pools extremely large, but they also exemplified cutting-edge architecture and were beautifully designed. Each pool featured dedicated swimming, diving, and wading areas, bleachers around the periphery, and bathhouses whose locker rooms doubled as fitness centers during the off-season. The planning team, led by the architect Aymar Embury II and the landscape architect Gilmore D. Clarke, created a succession of unique complexes, each sensitive to the site and topography of its respective location. Massive filtration systems, heating units, and even underwater illumination provided a more controlled bathing experience than the typically difficult and polluted waterfront currents in which the City’sCity’s masses had traditionally swum. This was made possible by constructing a new waterfront facility built specifically for this purpose. Brick, concrete, and cast stone made up the majority of the palette of building materials, but the styles varied from Romanesque Revival to Art Deco. Art Deco was particularly popular during this period.