In our recent roundup of some of the most exciting re-openings in New York City, we noted that NYC outdoor free pools are open as of July 24 and August 1. But listen up: the city is only opening 15 of its 53 pools this summer due to staffing and public health issues, and you can expect some changes to keep things safe. Read on for which NYC pools are open for summer 2020, new procedures and policies, and what’s on hold until next year.
The Basics & New Pool Rules
Outdoor pool hours are free and open to the public from 11 a.m. through 7 p.m., with a break for pool cleaning between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Early morning and late night adult lap swim hours are also available at some locations.
Fun fact: Thanks to American Academy of Dermatology’s SPOT Skin Cancer™ program, there's free SPF 50 sunscreen at NYC's free outdoor pools!
Like most things these days, there are new rules for summer 2020.
Face coverings are required when you're not in the pool, and you'll need to practice social distancing whenever possible. (That will begin with the line to get in—stand six feet from the person in front of you.)
Free swimming lessons are suspended for the season.
And the old rules still apply. (See below.)
Be Cool, Know the Rules: New York City Public Pool Rules
Before you head to one of the pools to take a quick dip, be sure to read all of their rules carefully - and be prepared to take them seriously. They do have staff (who are often described as militant) checking all pool guests to make sure they adhere to the rules.
First, bring a padlock, and don't be surprised if you have to show your lock regardless of whether you intend to put anything in a locker or not. You'll need that and a bathing suit to get in the door.
Only white tees are allowed in the pool (over the top of suits).
No phones or cameras are allowed on the deck.
No food or glass bottles.
No water toys or floatation devices are allowed and you must take a shower in the locker room before entering the pool.
Don't plan on taking more than the essentials (towels, goggles, sunscreen) on the pool deck.
Despite all the rules, we promise a dip in a public pool can be a fun, mini vacation when the mercury rises in NYC.
Since 2018, the city has updated a select number of pools in underserved areas that hadn't undergone improvements since the 1970s. These "Cool Pools" feature more green plantings, fun summer wall art, cabana-style structures for shade, and lounge chairs.
The bad news? No new Cool Pools for 2020. The good? Several of the 15 pools that are open are spiffed-up pools that are part of the Cool Pools program, such as Wagner Pool in Manhattan, Liberty Pool in Queens, Tottenville Pool on Staten Island.
Hamilton Fish Park Pool
This Olympic-size pool is an oasis of calm and cleanliness on the Lower East Side. It has such a great reputation that the U.S. Olympic Team used it for practice sessions on their way to the 1952 Helsinki Games. The locker rooms don't have benches to sit on or to place your things, while you get ready, so be prepared to juggle. There also isn't much in the way of deck furniture, so bring a large towel or picnic blanket to sit on. Hamilton Fish Pool opens August 1.
Pitt Street and Houston Street
Lower East Side
Jackie Robinson Pool
Located in the Jackie Robinson Park uptown, this is an Olympic-size pool. The pool also has a fun spray ground area for kids to romp in if they need a change of pace from the pool. This pool opens August 1.
Bradhurst Avenue and W. 146th St.
Located in East Harlem, the Wagner Houses Pool is two pools, one for swimming (which is handicap accessible) and one for wading. Wagner Pool opens on July 24.
E. 124th Street btwn First and Second Avenue
Marcus Garvey Pool
This popular Harlem Park is home to music fests, ball courts and playgrounds, and even a recently-restored historic fire watchtower. The pool here is an accessible intermediate-size pool that's four-feet deep. It opens on August 1.
124th Street and Fifth Avenue
Also known as "K-Pool", this Bed-Stuy spot has both a handicapped-accessible Olympic-size pool, which is four feet-deep, and a wading pool for little ones that's one-and-a-half feet-deep. It opens August 1.
Marcy Avenue between DeKalb Avenue & Kosciuszko Street
Sunset Park Pool
This South Brooklyn pool in Sunset Park is another accessible Olympic-size pool measuring 259-feet long. It's housed in an impressive 1930s structure designed by Aymar Embury II, and was built, as many of the city's free pools were, as part of the Works Progress Administration, or WPA. Sunset Park Pool opens August 1.
Seventh Avenue between 41st and 44th Streets
Betsy Head Pool
Another Olympic-size pool, Betsy Head Pool is in the Brownsville neighborhood park of the same name, which has received $30 million in funding for improvements as part of the city's Anchor Parks initiative. This pool is four-and-a-quarter-feet deep, and opens on August 1.
Boyland, Livonia and Dumont Avenues
Astoria Park Pool
Astoria Park has the largest pool in New York City, at 330-feet long. As well as the main, Olympic-sized pool and diving pool, you'll also find a wading pool here.
Insider Tip: They have a great area for kids that has been recently upgraded with sprinklers. The pool also has lounge chairs for use if you can find one free.
Astoria Park Pool
19th St. and 23rd Dr.
Nearest transportation: Astoria Blvd Station, Astoria-Ditmars Blvd Station (N, Q)
Located in Detective Keith L. Williams Park in Jamaica, Queens, Liberty Pool is part of the Cool Pool program, so it's updated, clean and colorful. There's a wading area for smaller kids, and the park itself is home to ball courts, a playground, WiFi hotspots and more.
105-31 172nd St.
Located in Jackson Heights, Fisher Pool is also a Cool Pool. You'll find an intermediate pool here, three-and-a-half feet deep, and a wading pool that's just one-foot deep. Both are on the small side, so are likely to fill up fast. It opens August 1.
99th St and 32nd Avenue
You'll find two pools at this East Bronx facility: an intermediate-sized 75-foot-long pool that's accessible, and a 24-foot wading pool a foot-deep. Haffen Pool opens August 1.
Ely and Burke Avenues
Another product of the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s, Crotona Pool is an accessible Olympic-size pool with an impressive Art Deco style bathhouse. Measuring 330-feet long and four-feet deep, it is the largest in the Bronx and the fourth largest in New York City. It is located in the sprawling green space of Crotona Park, which has a 3.3-acfe lake, 11 playgrounds, ball fields and a nature center. The pool opens August 1.
173rd Street and Fulton Avenue
This free outdoor pool in the Concourse section of the Bronx is one of the pools opening on the earlier date of July 24. Mullaly Pool is an intermediate-size accessible pool with a 24-foot sqaure wading pool. The park is also home to some spraygrounds if you and the kids need as change of scene.
E. 164th Street btwn Jerome and River Avenues
Staten Island Pools
One of 11 Olympic-sized pools built in 1936, Lyons Pool is known for its distinctive chimney feature, which is a well-known Staten Island landmark. From the top of the recreation center you can see Downtown Brooklyn.
Insider Tip: This is one of the few pools with a diving pool. It also features a wading pool for kiddos to enjoy.
6 Victory Blvd
Nearest transportation: Tompkinsville Station (SIR)
Another recently upgraded Cool Pool, this Staten Island pool complex has both an accessible 75-foot pool that's three-and-a-half-feet deep, and a 24-foot square pool for wading. There's a play area for children and picnic tables here as well. The pool opens August 1.
Hylan Boulevard btwn Joline Avenue and Sprague Avenue
featured image: Octavio Lopez Galindo via Pixabay
— Mimi O’Connor & Julie Seguss