Stimulus Update: Coburn Amendment Modified, Everybody Out of the Pool

mccaren-pool image

McCarren Pool, Greenpoint, Brooklyn

During GD1 (Great Depression 1) eleven pools were built in New York City alone by the Works Progress Administration. But America will stay dry thanks to the final wording of the Coburn Amendment. The original wording, which prohibited spending on parks and the arts, has been revised to read:

SEC. 1604. none of the funds appropriated or otherwise made available in this Act may be used by any State or local government, or any private entity for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, or swimming pool.

astoria pool photo

Astoria Pool, the largest WPA pool

The original Coburn Amendment prohibited a lot more, so at least we are not throwing out the baby with the poolwater. It previously read:

None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.

lyons-pool photo

Joseph H. Lyons Pool, Staten Island: Opened July 7, 1936, Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia summed up one of the main goals of the WPA pools, calling the facility "a monument to the progressive government which would not and could not see unemployed men on the breadline. "


The WPA pools were designed to adapt to off-season uses such as paddle tennis, shuffleboard, volleyball, basketball, and handball. Wading pools were used as roller skating rinks, and indoor locker rooms and changing areas were adapted for boxing instruction and evening dance halls for teens.
About the photos: All swimming pool images and information from New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

The WPA swimming pools were among the most remarkable public recreational facilities in the country, representing the forefront of design and technology in advanced filtration and chlorination systems. The influence of the pools extended throughout entire communities, attracting aspiring athletes and neighborhood children, and changing the way millions of New Yorkers spent their leisure time.

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