For the trolley parks of the 1900's, pools were important, lucrative attractions. They provided a place for people to swim without having to travel the long miles to the beach. One such pool, Kennywood Park Pool in Pittsburgh, opened in 1925 and was once the site of the Miss Pittsburgh Pageant. Palisades Amusement Park's "Surf Bathing" pool (1913) was America's largest salt-water pool! Along with the Crystal Pool, these pools provided a perfect setting for many amazing memories.
The Beginning of the Crystal Pool. The Crystal Pool was designed by Alexander, Becker and Schoeppe of Philadelphia, also the architects of the Spanish Ballroom, and construction on it was started on February 21, 1931 by Skinker and Garrett. The pool held 1.5 million gallons of water and could accomodate 3,000 swimmers. At the entrance, a fee of 50 cents for adults and 25 cents for children (in later years 80 cents and 30 cents respectively) was exchanged for a locker key and a towel. Upstairs, in what is now a grassy field, they swam in four sections—the diving area, with high and low diving boards, was closest to the entrance, then the deep area, the general swimming area, and the wading pool off to one side. A 10,000 square foot sand beach next to the ballroom provided a place for swimmers to relax and sunbathe. Complete with locker rooms, indoor and outdoor showers, a waterslide, a "big rest float," lights, and an electric fountain, the Crystal Pool was one of the largest and most beautiful pools in the nation. A refreshment stand was located next to the beach and an observation pavilion provided seating for spectators. A guard house was built next to the wading pool for lifeguards. In the end, the Crystal Pool cost over $200,000 to build.
The Location of the Crystal Pool.Today, all that remains of the Crystal Pool is the front entrance and scattered ruins. The Crystal Pool sign, where you are now standing, marks the entrance to the pool. Through these doors, guests paid their entrance fee before making their way to the locker room building to the right. The Crystal Pool itself was above the entrance; if you were to walk through the doors now, you would actually be below pool level. The pool was one level higher. If you walk uphill to your left, and stand on the field adjacent to the playground, you would be standing in what was the main pool.
Crystal Pool Memories.Throughout its many years, the crystal pool attracted countless visitors to the park, and became the background for many fond memories. Thousands of people swam in the Crystal Pool daily and lazed the day away on its beach. Many people in the Washington area still remember cooling off here on hot summer days. A lifeguard once reported that "the pool was so crowded swimmers were bumping into each other," and a local man remembers "learning to swim with the help of his friends who believed in the sink or swim method." One woman recalls summers here with fondness. "We knew the summer was officially here when the Crystal Pool opened. It really was something to look forward to."
The Demise of the Crystal Pool.Like all trolley park pools, the Crystal Pool eventually saw the end of its days. After the amusement park closed in 1968, the pool was drained and some of its buildings were used as a sculpture studio. By March 1982, however, the locker rooms and observation platforms were deemed structurally unsound and the pool was demolished. The Crystal Pool remains only a distant memory of times gone by.