There are few things in this world that can compare to the pleasure of having your own swimming pool. Throughout the years, the pool has become a status symbol, a design element and an area of private recreation. In this article, we give you 100 years of swimming pools in American history. Dive in!
The 1910s marks the decade of the first in-ground swimming pool built in America. The Deep Eddy is known as the oldest pool in Texas situated in the city of Austin. Today, you can take a swim in the Deep Eddy as it is fully functional and well-preserved even after a hundred years have gone. The earliest known attempt to use chlorine for sterilizing pool was also recorded in 1910 at Brown University.
By the 1920s, the popularity of commercial and publicly accessed pools soared. Dr. Jeff Wiltse (Author of “Contested Water: A Social History of Swimming Pools in America”) described the 1920’s and 1930’s like the United States’ “pool -building spree” as pools opened to the public by the thousands.
In the 1930s, hotels began constructing pools as marketing tools to get more guests to check in. The Biltmore Hotel Pool was among one of the most well known for this. Because the hotel hosted the social elite including old Hollywood movie stars, swimming pools in hotels steadily became a social status symbol. Other hotels took a cue and followed with success.
The 1940s is the decade known for the beginning of the racial desegregation of public swimming pools. Although this continued well into the 1960s, it still wasn’t common to see a mix of races in public pools. Most public pools would intentionally close down instead of allowing black people in. White people who disagreed to the desegregation usually just abandoned swimming in desegregated pools. Today, the racial disparity seen in statistics of drowning children in swimming pools is a reflection of this discriminating past.
The developments and innovations in pool construction that started in the 1940s caused the industry to take off in the 1950s. In this decade, more and more members of the upper-middle class are able to afford residential swimming pools. Vinyl-lined swimming pools and one-piece fiberglass pools were introduced.
More and more swimming pool innovations continued throughout the ’60s. The decade is well known for the developments that allowed pools to come in free-form shapes succeeding the limited rectangular pools of the past. Other developments included PVC plumbing, kool deck, pool skimmers, main drains, and underwater lights.
The sexy ’70s was known for the peak of the swimming pool industry. The industry rose to popularity even more because of the influence of Mark Spitz’ 7-gold-medal-winning performance in the Munich Olympics. The concept of in-ground gunite attached spas and wooden hot tubs made swimming pools even more appealing than ever.
The rapid technical expansion of the 1980s set the emergence of the water park. Water parks increased excitement with water slides, play structures, and wave pools. The water park concept was a hit among Americans and by the end of the decade, most major cities in the country had some form of water park present.
Swimming pools in the 1990s have become complex and its features have grown in sophistication. Vanishing edges, modern pool decking, beach entries, and rock formations have become popular along with different water features.
In the modern decade, decorative techniques for swimming pools and pool decking are at its peak. Infinity pools grew in popularity thanks to social media. Salt-water pools and natural filtration systems have been on a steady rise. These innovations are a sign that there’s more to look forward to in the decades ahead.
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