Saturday, July 28, 2007

Astoria Park Pool

It's a Republican's nightmare - a well run, well maintained public utility enjoyed by a diverse group of people. That, in a phrase, sums up the swimming pool in Astoria Park.

Take the N/W to Astoria Boulevard and walk west to the park and you'll hit it. (There's also parking spaces right nearby.) You'll get in a line behind some long metal bars and, upon entering, need to show the guards that you have two things: a swimsuit for each person and a padlock (if you need to buy a padlock, there's a little kiosk outside that sells locks and other swimming apparel). Once inside the complex, the men go left into the Men's room and the women go right into the Women's. You lock your stuff in one of the lockers and then take a quick shower before heading to the pool. Just before leaving the Men's/Women room, a guard will want to see if you have some kind of underwear or protection beneath your swimsuit. Once you get outside, another person will ask you to shake out your towel, to make sure you're not bringing in any contra-band. You can then safely leave your towels on one of the big decks and go swimming in the enormous, pleasantly heated pool. There are lifeguards and guards everywhere. Needless to say, since this is a public pool in NYC, security and safety are #1. But if you follow the rules, you should have a good time. Oh, and all of this doesn't cost you one red cent.

This is a great public service and it's one of the city's best kept secrets. The pool is open every day from June through Labor Day, from 11 AM to 3 PM, then from 4 PM to 8 PM. On weekdays, you can get an early swim from 7 to 8 AM and then there are "laps only" lanes from 7 to 8:15 PM. I suggest getting there early, at 11 AM, since the pool fills up quickly. However, since it is so big, there's plenty of space for you to swim comfortably. There are also places where you can sun yourself and there are sprinklers you can run under as well. There's even a snack bar!

On a hot day, this is a little bit of heaven brought to earth in Queens. Mr NYC, for one, is grateful it's there. The Astoria Park Pool is the crown jewel of the city public pool system and it's been there since 1936. And you thought you'd never get to swim in the shadow of the Triborough Bridge!

GoCitykids/Astoria Park Pool

PS. Above the pool, there's also a big clock, so you can easily keep track of time.

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