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Keeping cool in above ground pools

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NY Times

Pools Above Ground Help Keep a City Cool


July 5, 2004


The Citronelli family and friends make good use of a backyard pool in the Morris Park section of the Bronx. The pool was also the site of baptisms.

This weekend, the rising temperatures drove many New York City dwellers to the shore, the mountains or the air-conditioning.

In the Carroll Gardens section of Brooklyn, the heat drove most people off Sackett Street. One homeowner there, Gloria Bonilla, 72, grimaced as she stepped out to dump the garbage. She was asked if she had a pool.

"Do I got a pool?" she snapped back. "I got 11 grandchildren. I better have a pool." She took this reporter's hand and walked him through her ground-floor apartment to her back deck. There, behind the town houses and low-rise apartments, was Brooklyn's lake country: clusters of round, blue ponds separated by low fences.

Adults and children reveled in chlorinated wetness in Mrs. Bonilla's pool and three others in adjacent backyards. Her grandson Stephen, 7, used a toy fishing pole to reel in a six-foot inflatable shark. In the next yard, a drowsy woman in a bikini floated around in circles on an inflatable raft, oblivious to the children and the neighbor in an adjacent yard using a chainsaw.

"We got at least 10, maybe 12 pools on this block," Mrs. Bonilla said. "We just like pools. You don't think of private pools in the city, but you need them much more than in the suburbs. There's no relief."

The aboveground pool, a fixture of suburban yards in the 1970's and 1980's, is less prevalent there now. Economic booms and soaring real estate values have prompted many suburbanites to invest in elaborate in-ground pools or fancy hot tubs.

But aboveground pools remain popular in much of New York City - not only on Staten Island and in more suburban sections of Queens and the Bronx, but also in urban sections behind brownstones, small apartment buildings and multifamily houses.

Sunken pools are rare in the city because many people are renters, not owners, and there is less disposable income and little yard space. Also, it is often impossible to excavate for a sunken pool. But the aboveground pool is alive and well (albeit often hidden behind rows of attached homes), especially for urbanites who cannot easily get to nice beaches or shy away from public pools.

Mrs. Bonilla said she recently bought her $2,500 aboveground pool, replacing a similar one she bought 30 years ago.

"Best investment I ever made," said Mrs. Bonilla. "They wanted $7,000 to build me one of those fancy in-ground pools. Seven grand? Forget it."

Dean Salvane, 48, who for 30 years has managed Dizzy Dean's, a pool store in the Morris Park section of the Bronx, said sales of aboveground pools in the city have never been better.

"The aboveground pool mimics a more expensive product and is very affordable to the working class," Mr. Salvane said. "This is New York City and people feel safe in their own yards, so they want to make their home their castle and build a little country club in their backyard."

Prices for aboveground pools start at about $1,500, he said, delivered and installed.

"It's something a struggling young family in the city can afford," he said. "Compare it to trucking the kids to the beach. You got gas, tolls and food. Take a family of five to Disneyland, and guess what the little mouse is going to rip out of your pocket? About $6,000. You know what kind of pool you could get for that?"

On Saturday morning, customers flooded the store, buying filters, chemicals and pool liners. Some asked if they could have a pool installed in time for a Fourth of July barbecue.

One customer, Lori Masciarelli, 35, said she has the same figure-eight-shaped pool her parents bought her as a child. Thirty years and three pool liners later, her children, Dean and Juliana, now enjoy it.

"They're in it every day," she said. "Look at the tans on them."

By noon, Muliner Avenue nearby had become an unforgiving stretch of sun-baked asphalt. But in the Citronellis' backyard, things were cool as can be.

Their shallow 12-by-24-foot aboveground pool is not far from a four-story apartment building, and shouts and splashes echoed along the block-long courtyard formed by the buildings.

The pool takes up virtually every square foot of the Citronellis' backyard. A similar pool next door in the Crastos' yard is about three feet away and the kids hop from one to the other, over a low fence and under a clothesline.

Eddie Citronelli watched his three children doing cannonballs off a wooden deck into the pool.

Mr. Citronelli, a bishop of a network of Pentecostal churches called The Bible Churches of Christ International Ministry, said he has used the pool to baptize churchgoers.

"One year, we baptized 15 people here at one time," he said.

On DeGraw Street in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, there are three adjacent buildings with pools. The middle one belongs to the Gormans.

Ginny Gorman said that she and her husband, Bill, bought the pool to help keep their four children, ages 10 through 18, spending summers in the backyard, rather than on the street.

"It helps keep the kids grounded," Mrs. Gorman said. "It keeps them off the street and occupied, not looking for something else to do. The city is an ugly place to be sometimes. My 15-year-old daughter is little and blonde and cute, and I don't want her wandering the streets. Here, I know she's fine."

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I'm too much of an asthetic snob to have an above ground pool. On BBC America yesterday they had a Groundforce America marathon, one of the yards they did was a Queens home with an above ground pool. The whole thing was so painful, the aboveground pool, the madonna in a bathtub, the weird columns and cherubic statuary, it was all so Queens and so tacky. The Groundforce crew did the best they could, but it was hopeless from the start.

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LOL, sounds like Queens. The City has many public pools also (and there's always the beaches, but not the same as pools)...

NY Times

An Acre of Blue


Astoria Pool, which dates from 1936, is a legacy of the Robert Moses era.


July 4, 2004

ON Friday afternoon, June 25, at Astoria Pool, Connor Quinn and Christopher Pappas, two 8-year-olds from the neighborhood attired in flashy orange and blue bathing trunks, were growing up. Or not.

"Stop it!" Connor yelled at Christopher, who had initiated a splashing offensive against him unseen in pool history.

"What am I doing to you, pineapple boy?" Christopher demanded, sticking out his tongue. Then, after a moment, the boys began splashing again. When a pool employee informed them such actions were absolutely against the rules, they stopped and started a smiling contest.

Connor and Christopher had been seated at the water's edge awaiting the pool's official opening; the mayor, due to arrive shortly, was to give a speech and blow a whistle. Though Christopher had, by his estimate, been to the pool "about 55 times," this was the first time in his memory that swimming could not begin until a visiting dignitary gave permission.

"When is the mayor going to get here?" asked Connor, itching to splash again. Then, just in time, Michael R. Bloomberg appeared, wearing tasseled loafers without socks and black nylon trunks that revealed jarringly untanned legs. When he gave the signal, Connor, Christopher and 50 other children flung themselves into the aqua depths. Another summer had begun.

New York City has 53 outdoor municipal pools, but Astoria's, at 330 feet long, 165 feet wide and a rather disappointing 4 feet deep, is the largest. It covers more than an acre, and on oppressively hot days, a line snakes around its massive brick bathhouse and stretches for blocks.

The pool is set just off the East River within the green hills of Astoria Park, and its fading blue concrete floor is surrounded by short cement bleachers and a thick ring of trees. On one side, a dormant, three-tiered diving platform hangs over a deeper, empty pool; on the other, red and blue sprinklers invite children to splash in the shadow of the Hell Gate Bridge.

To find the pool, you must traverse street after street of quaint Astoria homes, two-story brick dwellings that resemble filing cabinets with their bottom drawers pulled out. The pool is close to a mile from the neighborhood's elevated subway platforms on 31st Street, where the N and W trains run, but for most travelers, it's worth the trip.

"You come through that breezeway, and you see this endless plain of water," said Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe, who grew up on the Upper West Side and used to be taken to Queens by his mother and sister to visit Astoria Pool as a child. "My memories are the vastness of it, the blueness of the sky, the blueness of the pool."

Every day of the week from June until September, thousands of people lounge in its waters and on its concrete deck, buying hot dogs and lunching in the shade of a pair of enormous fountains. With its vendors, restroom attendants, filter operators, lifeguards, police officers and countless swimmers, the small galaxy of Astoria Pool is summer in the city, distilled. One does not come of age in Astoria without bathing there.

The pool has a history to match its size and grandeur. On July 4, 1936, the master builder and swimming enthusiast Robert Moses established 11 pools in the city. Astoria's was the system's crown jewel and the site of swimming trials for that year's Olympic Games in Berlin. It may be no coincidence that the pool's deck offers a perfectly framed view of another Moses creation, the Triborough Bridge.

Almost immediately upon its founding, the pool became a focus of Astoria life. In the 1940's, Italians, Germans, Irish and Greeks from the neighborhood gathered on Wednesday nights to witness the antics of the Aquazanies, a troupe of intrepid swimmers who wore striped bathing outfits and presented water-related extravaganzas. "They would have music and props and backdrops, and even dogs sometimes," said Mitchell Grubler, executive director of the Queens Historical Society.

(Here's the rest of the article)



Almost immediately upon its founding, the pool became a focus of Astoria life.


John Petropoulos operates the snack stand.


When the pool opened, during the Great Depression, it was the crown jewel of the municipal system and the site of swimming trials for the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was one of countless New York children who splashed in its waters: "My memories,'' he said, "are the vastness of it, the blueness of the sky, the blueness of the pool."


Silvana Torres of Astoria with her 1-year-old son, Christopher Rodriguez.


Astoria Pool is the proposed site of the 2012 Olympics aquatic center. If New York, in fourth place among five cities in contention for the games, is the winner, plans call for replacing the existing pool with three new ones.



Children splash in the shadow of the Hell Gate Bridge.

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I can't believe New York has only 53 outdoor public pools. That's only one pool for about every 160,000 people. I can't imagine how crowded they must get.

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I never used a public pool when I lived in New York, I never really thought of it actually. I made my way to the beach when I wanted a swim. It's a bit of a journey, it's not like you just decide to go on the spur of a moment (unless you actually live in the Rockaways or something), but it is easy enough to get to a beach. I have a friend with a condo on the beach in Long Beach (Nassau County), really nice. ;)

I lived just up the road from that pool in Astoria.

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Well unlike many cities, GW, NYC also has numerous real beaches that can handle hundreds of thousands. 

A lot of the pools are very large also. Add to that, there are a lot of indoor recreation center pools, the beaches, etc. There are times when the beaches of NYC hold millions....




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