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Exploring Barretto Point Park, Home of the Floating Pool Lady

Welcome back to Camera Obscura, Curbed's series of photo essays by Nathan Kensinger. Every other week, Kensinger will explore one of the city's less-known corners, beginning with the new parks built during the Bloomberg administration. Up now, Barretto Point Park in the Bronx.


[Barretto Point Park opened in 2006, and currently houses The Floating Pool Lady barge pool. All photos by Nathan Kensinger.]

Barretto Point Park is one of the most remote, unlikely, and yet popular new waterfront parks in New York City. Built on top of "a sand and gravel plant that had been abandoned to weeds and garbage for years," this 11 acre, $7.2 million park was officially opened in 2006. It is located in Hunts Point, a heavily industrial Bronx neighborhood. Twenty minutes from the nearest subway, the park faces a busy truck route, with 18-wheelers double parked outside. Bordered by two abandoned lots, it also shares a coastline with several industrial complexes, including a Department of Environmental Protection sludge boat dock. Inside the park, there are panoramic views of the Rikers Island jail and North Brother Island's abandoned smallpox hospital.

Despite the challenges presented by its location, Barretto Point Park is crowded with families, even on weekdays.  It offers up a host of activities for visitors, including a kayak launch, a fishing pier, several playgrounds, a beach volleyball pit, and an impressive amphitheater.  The crown jewels of the park, though, are its beach and its pool?The Floating Pool Lady?which has docked at the park each summer for several years. The pool offers visitors the unique opportunity to swim on a refurbished barge, which seems perfectly appropriate for a park carved out from an industrial wasteland.

Barretto Point Park features an impressive amphitheater with views of Barretto Bay.

Visitors are encouraged to gaze out on to the hospital ruins of North Brother Island.

A DEP sludge boat travels through Hell Gate, towards a nearby sewage processing plant.

Built on a formerly abandoned lot, Barretto Point Park is relatively large for a new waterfront park.

Its fishing pier extends out into Barretto Bay, and includes several fishing portals.

Anglers catch snapper and crabs within view of the Empire State Building.

The park also features a small beach cove, which looks out onto Rikers Island.

The beach, when compared to the nearby barge pool, is not a popular swimming destination. Rubble from the abandoned lot next door washes up on its shores.

The Floating Lady Pool, however, is almost always busy. A special MTA shuttle bus delivers swimmers from the closest subway stop on weekends.

This 25 meter pool can handle 170 swimmers at a time. 

Built by The Neptune Foundation on a decommissioned river barge, the pool fits in well with its industrial surroundings.

?Nathan Kensinger
· Official site: Barretto Point Park [NYC Parks]
· Official site: Nathan Kensinger Photography [kensinger.blogspot.com]
· Nathan Kensinger archive [Curbed]
· Barretto Point Park coverage [Curbed]