I’d already set out to swim in every public pool in Philadelphia the afternoon I came across the slides at Athletic. If I hadn’t yet, that might have been the day I decided to.
“There’s a pool with SLIDES,” I practically shouted at my coworkers the next day (I was a lifeguard at the time), showing them the photos I’d taken from every angle.
We worked 25 blocks due south. And we knew the rules. No balls. No games. No rafts or floats. No diving, flipping, or dunking. We understood where a lot of the rules came from, and we knew their intent was to keep everyone safe. But it was always a little disheartening to blow our whistles at parents with their kids on their backs. “You can’t be on someone’s back,” we’d call across the pool, watching a combination of confusion, annoyance and resignation wash across their faces.
But that afternoon, at a playground in North Philly, I saw a pool with built-in fun. What other amazing opportunities might our extensive pool network hold? I had to find out.
Spoiler alert: Athletic is the only pool with slides.
But other pools have their features. And since we’ll all be trying to keep cool in the days ahead, this seems like a good time to mention them.
Slides: Athletic (26th and Master, North Philly)
Grass to lie on within the pool fence:
- Kelly (next to the Please Touch Museum in Fairmount Park — see here for this year’s hours)
- a little bit at Marian Anderson (17th and Catharine, South Philly)
Particularly peaceful grass to lie on just outside the pool fence:
- Cobbs Creek (in Cobbs Creek Park between Locust and Spruce, West Philly)
- Lackman (Bartlett St. and Fenwick Rd., Far Northeast)
Lounge chairs and umbrellas:
- Francisville (18th and Francis, North Philly)
- Kingsessing (50th between Chester and Kingsessing — make a contribution to this grassroots pool beautification effort here)
- Lawncrest (Comly and Rising Sun, Northeast Philly)
- Lee (43rd and Haverford, West Philly)
- Marian Anderson
- O’Connor (26th and South, Center City)
- Pleasant (Chew and Slocum, Mount Airy)
- Bridesburg (Richmond between Buckius and Ash, Bridesburg)
- Hank Gathers (25th and Diamond, North Philly)
- Kendrick (Ridge and Roxborough, Roxborough)
- Samuel (Gaul and Tioga, Port Richmond)
Stairs into the water (not an exhaustive list):
- 12th and Cambria (North Philly)
- Athletic (with handrail)
- Cobbs Creek (with handrail)
- Cione (Huntingdon and Aramingo, Port Richmond)
- Cherashore (near 10th and Olney, Fern Rock)
- J. Finnegan (with handrail – 69th and Grovers, Southwest)
- Kendrick (with handrail)
- Kingsessing (with handrail)
- Lonnie Young (Ardleigh and Woodlawn, Germantown)
- Mander (with handrail – 33rd and Diamond, East Fairmount Park)
- Mitchell (Chesterfield Rd. and Whitehall Ln., Far Northeast)
- C.B. Moore (22nd and Sedgley, North Philly)
- Morris Estate (16th and Chelten, West Oak Lane)
- F.J. Myers (58th and Chester, Southwest Philly)
- O’Connor (with handrail)
- Piccoli (with handrail – Castor and Bristol, Juniata)
- Stinger Square (32nd and Reed, South Philly)
Chair lifts: Many pools have these, but winters can wreak havoc on their functionality. Two I’ve confirmed are working this year are at Bridesburg and Murphy (3rd and Shunk, South Philly). Let me know what others you know are too! Parks and Rec also runs a year-round indoor pool for people with disabilities at Carousel House (Belmont and Avenue of the Republic, Fairmount Park/West Philly).
Changing rooms (more than a bathroom, which many other pools also have)
A note on links: Info for all Parks and Rec sites is available at https://www.phila.gov/parks-rec-finder. But when a facility has an active Facebook page, that’s often a more up-to-date source for pool hours and info, so I’ve linked to those when available.
What other features matter to you?