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View, New York City, Harlem, Lincoln Swimming Pool, African American Sports, Vintage Print, c. 1930

Lincoln Swimming Pool
American: c. 1930
Photolithograph on paper
14 x 32.5 inches, image
15 x 33.5 inches, overall

Rare bird’s-eye view architectural rendering of the Lincoln Swimming Pool. The print reproduces a wash drawing of the extensive recreation complex that opened in 1930 on West 146th Street between Lenox and Seventh Avenues in Harlem, beside the Harlem River. In addition to the large swimming pool, the rendering shows handball courts, a “sand beach,” and an indoor recreation building with a roof garden. The view shows citizens enjoying the pool, which has a large fountain spouting in the center. Cars and trucks are in the road, and city buildings in the distance. Scant references to the pool are available, but it apparently opened in 1930 and was intended for use by local African American residents in Harlem.

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A history of baseball’s Negro League cites an article in the New York Age published on July 5, 1930, stating the winner of a series between the Lincolns and the Black Sox “was to be presented with a silver loving cup donated by the management of the new Lincoln Swimming Pool.” An article titled “Negro Swimmers Enter Daily News Swimming Contest” from the Associated Negro Press wire service appearing on August 9, 1930 in the Indianapolis Recorder, an African-American weekly newspaper, reports on the excitement with which Harlem residents greeted the “magnificent new Lincoln swimming pool” in an era in which commonplace segregation of swimming pools and lack of local facilities impeded black citizens’ access to such facilities:

NEW YORK. August 8.β€”(ANP) β€”For the first time in the history of the Daily News swim derby, an annual event in New York, colored entrants will participate. Due largely to the convenience of the magnificent new Lincoln swimming pool in 146th street, the colored entrants are being received.

Prior to the opening of the Lincoln Recreation center, there was little interest shown in aquatic sports, save for a spasmodic mention of Pauline Jackson. But now, there is a new and lively interest in water sports with the Lincoln pool playing a leading role in the development of the healthy sport.

On Friday, eliminations were held at the Lincoln pool with some splendid showings on the part of the contestants. There was fancy diving worthy of the best, snappy races and a general all-around interest which betokens a prosperous future for the pool.

Here, those who are unable to swim find instruction of highest type. Not only is the recreation center a swimming pool. It conducts amateur boxing under the immediate supervision of Roy Morse, former national sprint champion. Morse, a lieutenant, in the 369th is bending every effort to make these amateur events an attractive feature of the pool and has the backing of the Salem Crescent Athletic club and the sanction of the A.A.U. in promoting the affairs.

This encouragement, along aquatic and pugilistic endeavor, will do much to advance the colored candidates in both lines and bring new talent and blood to classes which need it.

Later on, in 1936, New York City’s Parks Department, with assistance from the federal Works Progress Administration, built a public pool for Harlem residents in what was then known as Colonial Park, now Jackie Robinson Park, which is west of the site where the Lincoln Swimming Pool once stood.

Full text: Lincoln Swimming Pool, 550 x 100 ft. β€” 55,000 Sq. ft. 160 to 204 West 146th St. β€” between Lenox and Seventh Avenues. Capacity 4000/5000 people. Volume pool 630,000 gallons. Cost of land & buildings $500,000. Pool proper, 15,000 Sq. ft. Beach, 15,500 Sq. ft. Building, 12,500 Sq. ft. Hand-ball Courts and Sand Beach. Swimming Pool. Roof-Garden and Recreation Bldg.

References:

“History of Parks’ Swimming Pools.” NYC Parks. http://www.nycgovparks.org/about/history/pools (20 February 2019).

“Negro Swimmers Enter Daily News Swimming Contest.” The Indianapolis Recorder. 9 August 1930. p. 3. Online at: https://newspapers.library.in.gov/cgi-bin/indiana?a=d&d=INR19300809-01.1.3 (20 February 2019).

Singletary, Wes. The Right Time: John Henry ‘Pop’ Lloyd and Black Baseball. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 2011. p. 178. Online at Google Books: https://books.google.com/books?id=2AsvWD1JXIoC&pg=PA178 (20 February 2019).

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Century

20th Century