The Red Hook Play Center (Sol Goldman Pool) is one of a group of eleven immense outdoor swimming pools opened in the summer of 1936 in a series of grand ceremonies presided over by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia and Parks Commissioner Robert Moses. All of the pools were constructed largely with funding provided by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The complexes generally employed low-cost building materials, principally brick and cast concrete, and often utilized the streamlined and curvilinear forms of the popular 1930s Art Moderne style. Each had separate swimming, diving and wading pools, and a large bath house with locker room sections which doubled as gymnasiums in nonswimming months.
Designed by Joseph L. Hautman, the Red Hook Play Center (Sol Goldman Pool) is set on a landfill site located on Brooklyn’s waterfront between the former Erie Basin and the Gowanus Canal. Uniquely situated on reclaimed waterfront property, the Red Hook Play Center was the first major accomplishment in the Parks Department’s plan to transform a large swath of the industrial waterfront into a modern recreational area. Just three years after the pool’s completion, its physical setting was remarkably altered with the construction of the Red Hook Houses, the 20-building federally funded public housing project that rose directly to the north of the Red Hook Play Center.
The long, low design of the C-shaped bath house emphasizes the characteristic horizontality of the style, accentuated by horizontal bands of windows, contrasting cast-stone coping, and long cast-stone sills and lintels. The formal symmetry of the entire complex can be appreciated from all angles, both within the pool enclosure and outside of it.
*Excerpt from the Landmarks Preservation Commission designation report
STATUS Designated Individual Landmark
“I don’t know what the City would be without HDC. [They] testified before LPC time after time and helped us focus on the right issues. We would not be an historic district without HDC! ”
Doreen Gallo: DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance
“Use HDC as a resource because they know what they are doing and can offer advice on how to go about creating a district from every front: architectural, political, LPC, and the media. I had floundered prior to my involvement with this invaluable organization.”
Fern Luskin: Lamartine Place Historic District; Friends of Lamartine Place & Gibbons Underground Railroad Site
“HDC provided guidance and shared information during that process—we knew which Council members were going one way or another and we changed a few minds. I don’t think NoHo would have had as cohesive a district had it not been for HDC’s aid.”
Zella Jones: NoHo Historic District; NoHo East; and NoHo Extension
“I remember Richard saying at a meeting, we have someone here from HDC, Nadezhda Williams, Director of Preservation and Research, to help us. She said to us, ‘You are not the only ones going through this.’ HDC included us in an enormous community”
Erika Petersen: West End Preservation Society