13. Astoria Park Pool and Play Center

Astoria Park Pool and play center
Astoria Park Pool and Play Center. Photo by Michael Moran.

On July 2, 1936, the Astoria Park Pool and Play Center opened to the public, with a capacity of 6,200 swimmers. Designed by architect John Matthews Hatton, the Play Center takes full advantage of the natural beauty of its surroundings on the east shore of the Hell Gate channel in Astoria. The Play Center’s main pool became the largest of 11 pools in New York City completed by the Works Progress Administration. In addition, the center’s pools have also hosted swimming trials for the Summer Olympics in 1936, 1952, and 1964. Alongside the center’s pools is a U-shaped bathhouse composed of pavilions entering north and south of a central lobby.

In 2007, the Astoria Park Pool and Play Center were designated a city landmark by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Over the years, though the pool and bathhouse continued operations, the center’s wading pool failed to meet code requirements and was subsequently closed. As a result, the NYC Parks Department and Nancy Owens Studio Landscape Architecture collaborated to reconstruct the wading pool as part of a larger three-phase renovation project for Astoria Park.