Best Public Pool (2008)

Hamilton Fish Recreational Center

"The water's a little cloudy," says a lifeguard at the HAMILTON FISH RECREATIONAL CENTER, "but it's really the cleanest public pool in Manhattan." The city has spent millions renovating this historic pool, which opened during the Great Depression and was a training ground for the U.S. Olympic team before they competed in Helsinki in 1952. Now big-bellied men waddle around the brick deck and bronze their guts in the sun. Pregnant women are in suits, too. In the four-feet-deep, colossal pool a lot of traffic: fluttering feet, multiple splash wars, simultaneous games of chicken, young men with fuzzy mustaches who dive underwater—hold their breath—and try to pinch bikini butts. "Stop," the girls say, then giggle. The water stays crisp, about 70 degrees, and the maximum capacity is around 670 swimmers, the lifeguard says, but on a recent scorcher they broke 700. So, any floaters? "Not yet," he says, then clasps his hands together in prayer.


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >