An Albany Gem – Lincoln Park Pool
Today Lincoln Park Swimming Pool opened for the summer and it’s time to tell you a little of its history.
Construction began in 1930. When it was completed it was one of the largest municipal pools in country and a model by which all others would be judged. The cost of the pool, the bathhouse and ancillaries was in excess of $100,000, (which would be about $2 million in 2017), a vast sum, especially in the beginning of the Great Depression. But the timing couldn’t have been better, since it provided affordable sports, recreation and entertainment when most people were down and out.
The pool we have today replaced a “swimming hole” in the upper part of the Park near Delaware Ave. called “Rocky Ledge” , created in the mid-1920s, from a large natural ravine and filled with water. But that proved impractical and dangerous.
Lincoln Park swimming pool opened on July 4, 1931; it was immediately wildly popular. On some hot steamy days in the 1930s daily attendance exceeded 16,000.
We estimate in the 85 years the pool has been open in the summer, over 60,000 kids in 4 generations in Albany have learned to swim.
It’s been open every summer except for one -1965. That year it didn’t open because of a terrible region wide drought, and the 1 million gallons of water it took to fill couldn’t be spared.
Little has changed over the years. The sand has been replaced by grass and there is no diving off the center dock. It draws fewer people than it once did, but it’s still an oasis in a crowded hot city for young and old, making wonderful memories.
When I was a kid on hot steamy days my grandmother would pack a picnic and take me and my brother on the Whitehall/Morton bus down to the pool at about 4 pm. We would swim and then my grandfather would meet us after work at 5:30 or so, and we would eat and swim some more. Back then, the pool closed at 8pm, and Grandpa would drive us home tired and finally cool enough to sleep that night in a world without air conditioning.