The Amateur Swimming Association was founded in 1869 in England and the Oxford Swimming Club in 1909. The presence of indoor baths in the cobbled area of Merton Street might have persuaded the less hardy of the aquatic brigade to join. So, bathers gradually became swimmers, and bathing pools became swimming pools.
In the U.S., the Racquet Club of Philadelphia clubhouse (1907) boasts one of the world’s first modern above-ground swimming pools. The first swimming pool to go to sea on an ocean liner was installed on the White Star Line’s Adriatic in 1906. The oldest known public swimming pool in America, Underwood Pool, is located in Belmont, Massachusetts.
Home swimming pools became popular in the United States after World War II and the publicity given to swimming sports by Hollywood films such as Esther Williams’ Million Dollar Mermaid made a home pool a desirable status symbol. More than 50 years later, the home or residential swimming pool is a common sight.
A set of amazing vintage postcards from William Bird shows what swimming pools looked like in New York in the 1950s and 1960s.
Alexandria Motel, Alexandria Bay, New York
Bel-air pool, Glen Spray, New York
Bird’s Nest Motel, Skaneateles, New York
Broadlea Pool at Academy of Our Lady, Goshen, New York
Captain Thomson’s Motor Lodge, Alexandria Bay, New York