The pool was refurbished as a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project in the mid 1930’s. The previous pool was a circular pool that measured 420 feet in diameter and was one of the largest outdoor pools in the world. It could hold between 10 and 25,000 swimmers. At the time of the WPA project, it was a segregated, white’s only pool. Interestingly, Fairground Park in which it is located is a large park on the north side of St. Louis that has an interesting history itself, one facet being that it was the landing spot for the first air mail delivery from Kinloch Field to the west.
On June 21, 1949, after the pool was to be integrated, 40 black youngsters tried to get into the pool, but were rebuffed by a group of 200 white youths. Subsequently, there was a race riot that was fomented by the close proximity to Sportsman’s Park, the home of the baseball Cardinals and Browns. Several people of both races were hospitalized, but no-one was killed. The next day the pool as again segregated, this lasting for about one year when there was a judicial mandate to integrate the pool. The white swimmers left the pool, attendance plummeted, and the large original pool was replaced with the present pool.
Project originally submitted by Charles Swaney on July 16, 2015.
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