|French Norman Manor House, Columbus, Ohio, 2007. Marilyn M. Briggs, photographer. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens. Garden Club of America Collection.|
|Weber Garden, Highland Park, Texas, 2013. Elsie Norman Dunklin, photographer. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, Garden Club of America Collection|
While swimming pools in some form or another can be traced all the way back to ancient times, they are by comparison a relatively new concept in America. One of the earliest public pools opened in Boston in 1868; another opened in 1884 in Philadelphia. These and other municipal pools served as a public baths for working class men and women and were often located in impoverished neighborhoods. Many of the poor living in urban areas did not have the necessary facilities in their homes to bathe properly. As a result, early municipal pools were more or less large, public bath tubs.
These pools were immensely popular, seeing over a thousand swimmers a day during the summer months. Their popularity, however, was not due primarily to the desire to get clean but to go swimming. In the late 19th century, however, social protocol did not see swimming as an acceptable pastime.
|Castle Hill, Ipswich, Massachusetts, 1931. Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, J. Horace McFarland Company Collections.|
|Chilcott Garden, New Vernon, New Jersey, 1965. Molly Adams, photographer. Archives of American Gardens. Maida Babson Adams Photograph Collection.|
Swimming pools represent a long-standing trend in American history that has evolved over the years. As resources, needs and social norms changed, so did the swimming pool. Though they started out as public bathing pools, today swimming pools, both public and private, can be found in almost every community across the country.
Archives of American Gardens Summer Intern 2015