All told, New York has 34 outdoor pools, 19 outdoor mini-pools, and 12 indoor pools—that’s 65 places to cool off this summer. All are free, and some, such as the five listed below, boast interesting features and offer lots of fun facts. By Jessica Allen.
Astoria Park Pool
Much-maligned Robert Moses did some good stuff for the City of New York, including overseeing the construction of 11 public pools during his time as parks commissioner (Moses was an avid swimmer). Thanks to him, the 330-foot Astoria Park Pool—the oldest and largest in the city—offers great views of the Triborough Bridge, Hells Gate Bridge, and Manhattan skyline, as well as two mushroom fountains shooting water 25 feet into the air. In addition, you can queue up for the separate Olympic regulation diving pool, with a 32-foot-high platform.
Red Hook Pool
There are two things you need to know about the outdoor pool at the Red Hook Recreation Center: first, to get into the pool, you have to comply with a very long set of rules, including forgoing any reading material, wearing a proper swimsuit, and bringing an appropriate lock. Fair enough. Second, the pool is across the street from the Red Hook Ball Fields, home to the Red Hook Food Vendors, selling Latin American and the Caribbean treats such as watermelon juice, grilled corn slathered in butter and Parmesan cheese, pupusas, and enchiladas. Swim, feast, wait half an hour like your mom taught you, repeat.
Carmine Street Pool
A swim at Carmine Street Pool in the West Village will appeal to art fans, movie buffs, and urban historians, to say nothing of people looking to cool off and relax. In 1987, Keith Haring began working on a mural of kids, fish, and abstract shapes in blue, yellow, black, and white. In Martin Scorsese’s Raging Bull (1980), Jake LaMotta meets Vickie at this pool. Finally, the center is named for Tony Dapolito, a lifelong community advocate who helped prevent Robert Moses’s plan to put a highway through Lower Manhattan.
McCarren Park Pool
When it opened in 1936, McCarren Park Pool was the biggest pool in New York City, able to accommodate 6,800 people. Over the years, the pool fell into disrepair. Its resurrection began in 2005, when it became a popular concert venue. In 2012, the Greenpoint pool reopened after almost three years of extensive renovations, costing more than $50 million. Smaller now, the pool can only accommodate 1,500 swimmers, but it also includes a skate rink, a year-round recreation center, and ice rink. Expect lots of tattoos and cans of PBR.
On average, 5,000 people a week take the plunge at Crotona Park. They’re drawn to the 925,000-gallon, 300-foot-long swimming pool, of course, the largest in the Bronx, but the bathhouse is pretty cool as well. Designed as an art deco interpretation of a French castle, it features extravagant ornamentation and medallions. The surrounding park—which includes 20 tennis courts, 11 playgrounds, 4 handball courts, 28 species of trees, 5 baseball diamonds, one nature center, and one very large lake—isn’t too bad either.