NYC public pools reopen: The best and buzziest places to check out this summer

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New York City is getting back in the swim of things.

After 2020’s summer of social distancing, New Yorkers can finally take the dive back into more familiar waters. On June 26, 48 of New York City’s outdoor pools will reopen in all five boroughs (five of the city’s outdoor pools will still be closed due to active reconstruction projects). And admission is still free to everyone!

Open swim hours will remain the same as in the before-times: 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., and 4:00 to 7:00 p.m.

Pools will use a bracelet system to reduce line congestion when pools reach capacity, Megan Moriarty, press officer for NYC Parks, told The Post. If the line gets too long, bathers will receive a wristband and a return time, ensuring everyone gets a time slot for a swim.

And regardless of vaccination status, pool-goers must wear face coverings except when in the water, and NYC Parks will provide face coverings to those who need. Staff will clean deck furnishings and “high touch” areas – such as ladders, bathrooms, drinking fountains and door handles – multiple times a day.

This summer will also see the debut of three recently renovated pools as part of the city’s Cool Pools initiative, in which city park pools receive upgrades like wall art, lounge chairs and free poolside activities such as life-size games like Connect Four at Van Cortlandt Pool in the Bronx. Howard Pool and Bushwick Pool in Brooklyn also got facelifts this year.

On Thursday, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver jumped into the Van Cortlandt Pool with kids from the Kingsbridge Heights Community Center and the Davidson Community Center to celebrate the reopening.

“This is so exciting, New York City’s coming back,” Silver said from the water, noting that last summer only 15 city pools were open. “This is what recovery looks like.”

Here, 10 of the top NYC pools to check out this summer.

Van Cortlandt Pool

Situated in New York City’s third-largest park, the complex consists of an Olympic-sized pool, a wading pool and a renovated diving pool. After swimming, take a walk through the park’s oak forests or check out Van Cortlandt Lake, the largest freshwater lake in the Bronx. In addition to spiffed up surfaces, the pool deck features colorful chairs that complement the new mural with painted suns, palm trees, sunglasses and the NYC Parks logo.

205 W. 242nd St. #4002, the Bronx; NYCGovParks.org

Astoria Pool

Astoria Pool is perhaps one of the city’s most popular pools due to its impressive views and historic features. The pool’s decorative glass block, Art Deco-style steel railings, and Art Moderne-style ticket booth still exist today. The diving board measures 32 feet, and the large pool area provides great views of the Hell Gate and Robert F. Kennedy Bridge, making for a splashing good time.

Astoria Pool was one of 11 outdoor public pools that the Parks Department opened in the summer of 1936 during the Great Depression to boost community recreation.

Another fun fact: In 1936 and 1964, Astoria Pool also hosted the Olympic Trials for the US. Swim and Diving Teams.

19th Street & 23rd Drive, Astoria; NYCGovparks.org

The Floating Pool

‘Tis the sea-sun to experience the Floating Pool Lady, the only floating pool in the United States. The seven-lane, half Olympic-size 25-meter pool is located on a barge in the East River in the Bronx’s Barretto Point Park. The facility also includes a 40,000-square-foot manmade “beach.”

Although it is the only one, Lady’s not the first floating pool NYC has seen. At the turn of the century, New York City had around 15 “floating baths” in the East and Hudson rivers, held afloat on pontoons and located near the tenement districts. Inspired by those works, Ann Buttenwieser established the Neptune Foundation to commission new movable waterfront pools, and from there, the Floating Pool Lady was born.

Tiffany Street & Viele Avenue, the Bronx; FloatingPool.org

Jackie Robinson Pool

Built in 1936, the Jackie Robinson Pool in Harlem is home to interesting architecture and lush foliage. Designed to accommodate 4,090 bathers at a time, the pool was once known as “Colonial Park Pool” in reference to the area’s role in the Revolutionary War — perhaps most notable for the 1776 Battle of Harlem Heights in which the Continental Army was victorious over the British.

In 1978 the pool was named for baseball legend Jackie Robinson, and in 1981 a bronze bust of Robinson was installed in the lobby. Bathers enter through a medieval-style two-story bathhouse with Roman arched windows. 

The neighborhood gem is nestled in a steep bluff with plenty of trees providing shade to pool-goers. The facility also features a small water park for children. (The interior recreation center remains closed.)

85 Bradhurst Ave., Harlem; NYCGovParks.org

Highbridge Pool

Opened in 1936, Highbridge Pool in Washington Heights may be one of the city’s most popular due to its appearance in the new film “In the Heights.” The 162-by-220-foot pool was the talk of the town almost a century ago when Robert Moses and Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia attended its opening. The pool underwent major renovations in the 1990s to upgrade its heating and ventilation systems, and volleyball and basketball courts — where some of the best athletes in the city scrimmage — were added in 2001.

The pool is notable for its views of the High Bridge, which crosses the Harlem River, and the Highbridge Water Tower that stands nearly 200 feet tall. The Olympic-size pool is surrounded by six playgrounds in Highbridge Park and a historic bathhouse. The heat of the sun may make you crave piragua — which is easily found nearby at street vendors.

Amsterdam Avenue & West 173rd Street, Washington Heights; NYCGovParks.org

Crotona Pool

Crotona Pool is the largest in the Bronx at 330-by-120 feet — nearly double an Olympic-regulation facility. It was designed by Herbert Magoon to accommodate 4,265 bathers at a time. The pool includes two pyramid-like structures in the water to mark depth, and the facility also hosts a small aquatic play area with sprinklers and water buckets.

The Play Center and bathhouse feature animal-themed sculptural elements including ibis-topped pilasters created in the 1930s by Frederick George Richard Roth. Lounge chairs surround the pool’s perimeter, but you may have to rush to secure one at the height of the summer. Near the pool is a 3-acre pond called Indian Lake where you might spot turtles and fish; Arthur Avenue isn’t too far if you’re looking for great post-swim grub.

1700 Fulton Ave., the Bronx; NYCGovParks.org

Sunset Park Pool

Located in Sunset Park Brooklyn, this pool provides some of the best views of any in the city, as swimmers can walk a bit farther up the park’s main hill to snap pics of the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan.

Although you’ll likely have to wade through some Brooklyn hipsters, neighborhood families can still enjoy the place: The smaller kids pool has been drained but now features spray fountains.

Seventh Avenue between 41st and 44th streets, Sunset Park, Brooklyn; NYCGovParks.org

Tottenville Pool

This Staten Island pool got a makeover in 2019, with new brightly colored murals (hello, Insta opps!), lounge chairs, cabana-style shade structures and new plantings. There are two pools at the park, one of which is 60-by-75-feet long, and there’s also a smaller wading pool perfect for kids.

6900 Joline Ave., Staten Island; NYCGovParks.org

Bushwick Pool

A beneficiary of this summer’s Cool Pools initiative, this pool is located on the border of Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. In addition to an intermediate pool and a wading pool, this park has a playground, handball courts, spray showes and swings. The pool area has been renovated with wall art, lounge chairs, shade structures and new green areas. Make the trip complete with a meal at Roberta’s, with some of the best pizza in the city, or Bunna Cafe that serves up vegan Ethiopian fare.

Humboldt Street between Flushing Avenue and Moore Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn; NYCGovParks.org

Howard Pool

Howard Pool, in between Ocean Hill and Brownsville, Brooklyn, is the third to receive renovations this year through Cool Pools. Originally named Howard Houses Pool — after 18th-century inn owner William Howard — the pool was opened in 1968 and renovated in the 1990s. The swimming pool can accommodate up to 180 bathers at one time. In addition to the pool’s new photo-worthy features, such as colorful murals of summer images, the facility also hosts a small playground with sprinklers.

East New York Avenue and Mother Gaston Boulevard, Brownsville, Brooklyn; NYCGovParks.org

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