When the +Pool guys unveiled their idea for a floating pool in the East River that used the river's water, people thought they were nuts, if not totally gross for wanting to swim in the river. But they weren't the first people to have this idea. In fact, the first floating pool debuted in New York City more than 140 years ago. Called "floating baths," the pools came into existence after the Civil War when public health advocates called for more public bath houses?yes, the rivers were so clean that people used the water to cleanse themselves. The 95' by 60' pools were constructed from eight floating pontoons that created a central well that was divided into two sections, one 4.5 feet deep for adults and one 2.5 deep for kids.
But of course, the experience was ruined when industries started throwing crap into the rivers, polluting the water. The floating pools started to fall out of favor in the 1920s, and by the time the city took over the baths in 1938, there were only six remaining. The parks department refurbished three of the pools and docked then at 96th Street on the Hudson, but they only lasted a couple more years.
The Floating Pool Lady, the barge turned into a swimming pool, took inspiration from the baths to create a different kind of floating pool that now docks permanently in the South Bronx. But if the +Pool guys are successful, the experience will be much truer to the original floating baths. Except for the super high-tech water filtration system. Pretty sure they didn't have one of those in 1870.
· Parks Swimming Pools History [NYC Parks Department]
· Floating Pool Lady coverage [Curbed]
· East River Floating Pool Concept Now Closer to Reality [Curbed]