Saturday, November 28, 2009

Robert Moses and the Astoria Pool

From the Daily News:

Master builder Robert Moses was in high gear in 1936, effortlessly spending truckloads of federal money as fast as he could, not only finishing up the enormous Triborough Bridge project but also installing splendid new public swimming pools all over town for the pleasure of the good people of New York - nearly a dozen of them, one a week all summer long. Most splendid of them all was the Astoria Pool, on the Queens side of the big bridge, right down in its very shadow. Characteristically Mosesean, the pool was said to be the nation's largest - 330 feet long, 165 feet wide, its 1.8 million gallons of water handily accommodating more than 3,000 bathers - and it was stunningly futuristic, boasting of all things underwater lighting, unheard of at the time. Well, it happened to cost nearly $4 million, in 1936 dollars, but then President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration had bucks to burn. Opening day was Saturday the Fourth of July, just a week ahead of the overhead Triborough, and if it was the Master Builder's lot not to be universally loved all his long life, on this particular occasion at least he won the hearts of many thousands of New Yorkers, since, amid the scorchingest summer in years, he ordered the Astoria and the other new pools not to close till midnight.


Anonymous said...

Robert Moses was like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead:

"When he was good, he was very, very, good, but when he was bad he was horrid."

Anonymous said...

I was fond of this pool 40 years ago, growing up swimming here once a week. However I remember how dangerious it was inside the locker room, how everything not nailed down was stolen. We used to get beaten up in the showers and the shower area was dirty. There were lot's of perverts lurking around naked.

Anonymous said...

Great pool that needs maintaining these days. Wish they would repair the diving pool.
Its interesting to hear the previous comment about the locker room and things being stole constantly 40 year ago. Some people on here make it sound like NYC was somehow safer back then, which it wasn't.

Anonymous said...

Yeah well the clientele over that period of time hasn't changed much - hello Ravenswood projects!

Anonymous said...

Actually New York was a lot more dangerous during the 1960's and 1970's then it is now. Although I lived right next to the pool, I was never allowed in it because of the rough element.

My one and only time in the pool ended when I sliced my foot open on a glass bottle that had been tossed over the wall into the pool.

I never want back in again and I still live next to the pool.