Anacostia Park: Swimming Pool – Washington DC

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In 1936, the Public Works Administration (PWA) provided $69,036 for the construction of a swimming pool in Anacostia Park (about $1.3 million in 2020 dollars). The pool was built by the BZ Contracting Company of New York and completed in early 1937. It was reported that, “The new pool will accommodate about 500 swimmers” (Evening Star, January 24, 1937).

In 1949, Anacostia Pool was the scene of fighting when black youths attempted to use the facility, which was formally not segregated but, in practice, used exclusively by whites. A pro-segregation group was irritated when white members of the “Young Progressives” handed out fliers “urging biracial use of the pool” (Evening Star, Jun 30, 1949). The pool closed that season and reopened the next summer, with park police on hand to enforce integration.

It is unknown to the Living New Deal whether the current pool at Anacostia Pool and Recreation Center is the original PWA-funded pool, or a replacement.

Source notes

1,000 From P.W.A. Assigned to Work on Park System,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), November 14, 1936, p. A-18 (accessed April 23, 2021).

Anacostia Park Pool Formally Accepted,” Sunday Star (Washington, DC), January 24, 1937, p. B-4 (accessed April 23, 2021).

Krug, Commissioners To Meet Tomorrow On ‘Recreation Problems’,” Evening Star (Washington, DC), June 30, 1949, pp. A-1 and A-3 (accessed April 23, 2021).

National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, in A Social History of Racial Violence, ed. Allen Grimshaw (1969), p. 324

Project originally submitted by Brent McKee - on February 26, 2015.
Additional contributions by Richard A Walker.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1800 Anacostia Drive
Washington, DC 20020

Coordinates: 38.8724, -76.9828

One comment on “Anacostia Park: Swimming Pool – Washington DC

  1. Sharon Bell Mathis

    Where was the original address of the Anacostia Park swimming pool in the 1930’s. New Deal.Sharon

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