Thursday, February 01, 2007

McCarren Pool Landmarking Discussed, No Action Taken

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While everyone was busy chuckling about the possible landmarking of the Pussycat Lounge in Lower Manhattan, a number of WPA-era swimming pools, including McCarren Pool in Greenpoint/Williamsburg came up for discussion at the end of Tuesday's Landmarks Preservation Commission Hearing. Ultimately, no action was taken on landmarking McCarren or other pools such as Red Hook's or Sunset Park's (both of which are still very active and vital pools). We'll let the Historic Districts Council Blog pick up the narrative regarding the pools:
The final items on the agenda were nine pools/play centers built with funds from the Works Progress Administration by Robert Moses and opened in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave in 1936. Eleven pool complexes were opened that year; two of them, Orchard Beach and the Astoria Pool, were designated last year. Up this time around were Crotona, Betsy Head, McCarren, Red Hook, Sunset, High Bridge, Thomas Jefferson, Jackie Robinson and Tompkinsville Play Centers (along with the bath house interiors of Crotona, Sunset, Jackie Robinson and Tompkinsville). These items were heard back in 1990, and two (McCarren and Crotona) are on HDC’s heard, but not designated list. Supporters, including representatives of local elected officials, spoke glowingly of the pools and their need to be landmarked. There was a bit of debate from those interested in McCarren over the Baumer plan. Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City spoke up against the current polishing of Robert Moses’s reputation. She noted passages on Moses’s racist views and actions in Robert A. Caro’s book “The Power Broker” and ended by saying that if the pools were designated, it is hoped that it is “done with recognition of the broader history of the city.”
We are far from being fans of Mr. Moses and of his legacy--particularly in Brooklyn--but these pools are historic structures and deserve designation. McCarren Pool needs to be at the top of the list. As a non-functioning pool, it could be seriously re-purposed and lose its historic character.

Related Post:
McCarren Pool Up for Landmarking

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