The Renovated Ruin
by: Stephanie Roush
June 7, 2012
After $50 million in renovations the closest thing New York City has to an ancient ruin, the McCarren Park Pool, is set to reopen later this month. Laden in cultural and social history, the opening ceremony will occur on June 28, 2012 at 11:00 a.m. Avid swimmers, city historians, and nostalgia-fraught hipsters alike will gather for the (re)opening of an original Brooklyn landmark, located off of the Bedford Avenue stop on the L train.
Robert Moses, a New York City “master builder” of the 1930s, opened the original pool complex in 1936 as a series of pools opened in the greater Manhattan area. The pool attracted a wide range of people, bringing together different socioeconomic classes until it closed in 1984.
Unused until 2005, the pool sat decaying in the city’s sun and snow for 21 years at which point a generous donation from Clear Channel Entertainment reopened the space for public entertainment. The McCarren Pool quickly became a musical hub for the hottest indie acts. Bands like Yo La Tengo, M.I.A., and TV on the Radio played there. The empty pool housed dodgeball tournaments, slip n’ slides and hula hooping enthusiasts for four consecutive summers.
Sonic Youth ended the pool’s reign of the Brooklyn music scene, bringing together its eclectic audience one final time. Now, the pool will once again open its gates to the public. It can accommodate up to 1,500 swimmers at a time, less than its concert capacity, but commendable just the same. So when summer heats up, which it will, Williamsburg may be able to offer something even cooler than its vintage stores, a pool.