A postcard of the Hotel St. George’s pool (via Scouting NY)
Last week, Scouting NY, whom we can always count on for unique urban discoveries, reported on the remnants of the Hotel St. George’s former pool, in a hunt for Godfather film locations. Two days later, he reported an even more astounding discovery: he had missed the pool completely, as it’s hidden underneath the existing pool and the wooden floor of a gym.
The Hotel St. George, with the first portion built in 1885, is located in Brooklyn Heights and has had a very storied history. From a rooftop “Egyptian” nightclub to a famous recording by New York Philharmonic in the Grand Ballroom, it became one of the hottest spots in Brooklyn for much of the 20th century. A vast range of celebrities also traversed the halls, from Duke Ellington to Leonard Bernstein. It also gained renown for its pool, unique in its grander, regality, and use of salt water.
The hotel St. George came to a rather tragic end, when in 1995 after much of the hotel was converted to residential housing, a massive fire broke out devastating a large portion of the structure. Hints of the pool remain throughout the hotel, pointed out by Scouting NY, such as green tiled-columns and scenic mosaics:
The site of the St. George Hotel pool today, note green tiled-columns that remain (via Scouting NY)
The pool of the Hotel St. George today that sits in the old pool (via Scouting NY)
After Scouting NY wrote his first article, a reader who did work on the hotel, wrote in providing invaluable information on the current state of the pool. The reader states that today the pool still exists in its entirety, just below the new pool and floor!
“Please look deeper…The pool still exists. We were not allowed to nail, chip, or remove any part of the original pool complex. We ran sleepers (beams) across the pool and floor area and built the new floor on the sleepers. The new pool is suspended from this floor, set into the larger existing pool.”
We’re excited to see what other discoveries are up next at the Hotel St. George!
There are countless other hidden pools in the city, perhaps most notably the Pompei inspired pool of the Woolworth Building . Covered extensively in our The New York City That Never Was column, the pool was designed by Woolworth architect Cass Gilbert and used until 1999. Today it sits, awaiting possible renovation as the Woolworth Building gets converted partially into condos.
Read more about the Hotel St. George on Scouting NY here, and his subsequent discovery of the pool’s continuing existence.
Get in touch with the author @spencercnyc