The Big Apple’s Bobbing Pool

Sitting outside in the sizzling heat during my lunch break, I often imagine myself taking a dip in the pool to cool off.  But, I run into a problem.  None of the eleven ‘intermediate’ classification pools, aka your normal ones, are anywhere near me.  However, for future hot interns – or anyone who wants to take a dip – all you may need to do is walk to the nearest waterfront.  A proposed project to revitalize NYC’s floating pool culture may just be the answer to NYC’s sweltering heat.

The project, called +Pool, aims to increase the use of NYC’s natural resources by creating a clean water environment for people to enjoy the city’s waterways.  The project also strives to bring back the attention of New Yorkers to the water ways, which once played a major role in the City’s development and is now affected by the lack of attention to the water.

The first floating pools were actually baths.  These baths existed in the city since the early 19th century, becoming especially popular after the Civil War as public health advocates petitioned for more public baths to increase personal hygiene. The first free public floating bath opened in 1870 in the Hudson and East Rivers.  Twenty years later, fifteen more of these were opened.  However, by the 20th century, the quality of the city’s water had degraded too much and these facilities were shut down.

Fast forward to 2007, when the Floating Pool Lady project launched.  Using an old cargo barge, Ann Buttenwieser and the Neptune Foundation, along with designers from Jonathan Kirschenfeld Associates, created a seven lane, 25-meter long floating pool.  The Floating Pool Lady is currently docked at Barretto Point Park in Hunts Point.

What those at the +Pool project hope to do is take the Floating Pool Lady idea one step further; putting the pool literally next to the river.  Project collaborators are in contact with those at the Floating Pool Lady project to discuss further development of +Pool.  “We hope to put people back right next to the water,” Project Manager for +Pool Dong-Ping Wong said in a phone interview when I called the organization.

In addition to providing a clean water environment for patrons to swim it, the pool itself acts as a filter in the river, helping to cleanse the water “like a giant strainer dropped into the river,” according to the concept site.  Wong notes that while the filtered water released from the pool may not be a significant amount to improve the quality of the river as  whole, it’s a start.

With an increased concentration on water in the past decade – in part due to the Mayor’s plaNYC 2030 proposal – projects such as +Pool hope to reconnect people back to the water in which this city was founded upon.  As average global temperatures increase and affect local weather, possibly resulting in heat waves like we’ve seen this summer, it’s refreshing to know that the next pool hitting the water can also help our environment.


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