One day in the summer of 2013, I decided to swim in all nine of the public pools in South Philly. By the time I got to pool number seven, Murphy (at 3rd and Shunk), I was a little tired of this adventure, and got in and got out pretty quick.

“Just wanted a quick dip?” the head lifeguard, whose name I later learned was Rodger, asked. So I explained that I worked at O’Connor (another city-run pool) and was out visiting the South Philly pools. It turned out he was part of the squad that had been brought into desegregate O’Connor twenty-five years ago. Rodger and I talked for twenty minutes, and the next day at my pool I relayed his stories back to everyone else. “You need to write this stuff down!” the other lifeguards and pool maintenance attendants insisted.

The purpose of this site is to share stories of a unique and fascinating aspect of our city’s culture. Philadelphia has more public outdoor swimming pools than New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, or Houston — all of which have larger populations than we do. But in this era of austerity and privatization, with attacks on everything from elementary schools to fire stations, none of our public goods are promised to us for long. I want to celebrate these shimmering respites from our sweltering city summers (and the 800+ seasonal and year-round workers who keep them open) while we still have them. They are the best of what our city is and can be.

Many thanks to Media Mobilizing ProjectΒ for inspiration, and to Leeway Foundation for a Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grant in support of this project.

9 thoughts on “About

  1. I would like to thank those who made this possible for our city children to enjoy. they were able to swim and stay safe all day with positive and professional well trained life guards on duty. Let’s do it again next summer. Thank you 58 & Kingsessing @ Meyers Rec Center good job.

    From a mother of five that use to reside in south west philadelphia.

  2. I’m sorry but I need to know when the pool opens for then I’m ready to know the time and day

  3. I’ve been disappointed the last several years since the pool at Junod was closed. It wasn’t that it wasn’t used, as I would go in the evening after work & others were always there. I am disabled by MS (Multiple Sclerosis) & the pool at Junod was quite accessible. Unfortunately the City & State protect non-paying owners at condominium associations & the pool 50 feet from my front door of my condo has lain broken, unusable & a health hazard as the mosquitos & what not populate in the green algae water for over a decade. Junod pool was my escape, as a condo owner, I am financially challenged being disabled. Recently I went to check out the Mitchell City pool location, NOT accessible for the disabled / MS. It’s a long distance in the hot weather to walk from the parking lot that had no disabled parking spaces. Please bring back the pool at Junod!!! Swimming is an excellent exercise for MS & other disabilities. Please don’t discriminated against Philadelphia residents with disabilities!!!! 😦 Wish the city recreation was more ADA compliant…

    • I had no idea there was a pool at Junod! I am so interested to learn this — and so sorry to hear that your treasured swim spot was closed. (One of the reasons I started this site was to prevent that to happening to more Philadelphians in the future. Myself among them!!)

      I’m guessing you already know that the other two working City pools in the far NE are Jacobs (on Linden Ave between Frankford and Torresdale) and Lackman (in a little cul-de-sac not far from where Bustleton crosses Red Lion Road). Lackman is also a little walk from its parking area (though not up a big hill like at Mitchell), but Jacobs is right next to the on-street parking…

      In terms of trying to bring the pool at Junod back to life, I’d be very happy to join you in advocating for this. My email is micaroot@gmail if you’d like to get in touch to strategize!

  4. I went to our pool at Fox Chase Rec center last night and was told by the lifeguards that it was closed for the summer… on August 9th??? Very disappointing for my daughter and me.

    • Yes, I hate when the pools start closing :(. They open over a several week period and close over a several week period, and this year Fox Chase closed the first day. Parks and Rec hasn’t put out an official closing schedule as far as I’ve seen, but I did catch a glimpse of a preliminary one which gave the following closing dates for other pools near Fox Chase:

      – Lackman closing at the end of the day Tues
      – Jardel open through the end of next weekend (so, 5pm on Sunday)
      – Lawncrest open through Wed 8/22
      – and Max Myers open through the last day of pool season, Fri 8/24

      Of these, Lackman probably has the most similar vibe to Fox Chase, but my favorite is Lawncrest — including because it’s one of the Swim Philly pools with lounge chairs, umbrellas, a nice shower, one more week of adult fitness classes, etc. Lmk if any other info would be helpful!

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