In the 1800s and early 1900s, it was common for New Yorkers to take to the rivers to “bathe” or cool off. To allow people to enjoy the water but prevent them from drifting away in the tidal currents, large floating containers were devised. Several million people took advantage of these some summers, before river water fell out of favor due to pollution and the rise of indoor bathhouses and pools such as Met Pool. The story of these pools is fascinating; check it out [PDF]!
Starting in summer 2007, New Yorkers could enjoy a floating pool once again, thanks to the work of Ann Buttenweiser and the Neptune Foundation. The new pool, filled with chlorinated fresh water rather than drawing from the rivers, floated first in Brooklyn, then the Bronx. I visited it in both locations and plan to return this summer wherever it turns up. It’s the only one of its kind, which is a shame.
Drawing on this work, some young local architects have conceptualized a next-generation floating pool using river water and called + Pool. (Get it? It’s shaped like a plus sign.) They’d love to build it and plunk it down in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and then I’d love to go for a swim there. They’ve been testing some cool ideas about filtration, and the design would accommodate a variety of uses and users–lap swimmers, waders/splashers, and loungers. (Not enough lap swimmers, if you ask me.)
Since the pool does not yet exist, I’m just coveting it right now. Please join me in following the progress and helping these guys will the pool into existence.