Designated November 18, 2008
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
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