now that it is finally finally feeling like the hot and sticky summer that i have come to expect from new york, the red hook pool has got to be one of my favorite parts of our summers here, especially that we now have kids. at 330 feet in length, this public pool is really glorious. with four or five great lap lanes (and there is adult-only swim in the mornings during the week from 7 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.), there is still a huge area for just playing around. in addition, there is also the biggest toddler pool that i have ever seen which has these overhead sprinklers, little concrete horses with water spraying out and the depth is at a food across just right for little ones to wander around as much as they’d like.
with funding from the federal works progress administration as part of the new deal, parks commissioner robert moses and the city’s mayor fiorello h. la guardia welcomed 11 new pools, including the red hook pool, in the summer of 1936 when temperatures rose to 106 degrees according to the new york times. the magnificent pools were all strategically located to serve the city’s poorest residents.
the main downside to the red hook pool, especially if you don’t live nearby, is that there are lots and lots and lots of rules. the more you know about those rules before going, the better off you are so definitely check the parks department for any updates. the main rules are: (1) bring a lock (cannot take valuables into the pool area and you MUST have a lock); (2) only items for the pool area are a swimsuit (must have that on, and the more it looks like a suit the better), a towel, sunscreen, water and maybe a book; (2) any t-shirts or hats must be white. remember, no floaties, no food, no attitude.
and the pool itself can get extremely crowded and rowdy so we really like going bang on at 11 a.m. and get out of there by 1. i definitely don’t like being there in the late afternoons (the lifeguard whistling can be non stop). if you can adjust to the rules, red hook pool is definitely an amazing completely free swimming option in the city so for those of us without country homes this is summer. for ideas as to where to eat and shop in red hook which is a great little slice of new york, see my mini guide below. red hook pool, 155 bay street between henry and clinton streets, brooklyn, new york, 718.722.3211, open for approximately 2 months from the end of public school through labor day.