A Little Local History Playland’s Pool
Playland began operating this summer under a thirty-year management agreement between Westchester County and Standard Amusements.
By Paul Hicks
Playland began operating this summer under a thirty-year management agreement between Westchester County and Standard Amusements. The agreement calls for many improvements to be made over the coming years, but it left the fate of Playland’s pool unresolved. It has been clear for some time that Standard’s preference is to close and fill in the pool, perhaps using the space for a dining facility or other revenue producing purpose.
According to the Westchester Department of Public Works, it would not be feasible to repair the pool, which has a bad leakage problem, and the cost to replace the pool would run between $8 and $10 million. County Executive Rob Astorino has recently asked the county legislature for approval of $2.7 million in a bond issue to demolish the pool without providing any plan for how the space would be used. As this new chapter in the long-running debate about the future of Playland unfolds, consider this summary of the colorful history of Playland’s pool:
The Hastings News: May, 1929
Miss Gertrude Ederle, who gained renown and the greatest ovation ever paid to any woman athlete when she swam the English Channel will be in charge of Playland’s new swimming pool at Rye this summer…Its completion forms the most important act of construction that Playland had planned for this, its second year of existence. The pool is one of the most picturesque in the east. It is situated at the entrance to the amusement center and adjacent to the Playland baths above the beach. It is supplied wholly with fresh water. Miss Eberle will make her initial appearance on June 6, along with Johnny Weismuller, free style Olympic champion…This date is the start of a three-day carnival…The pool will be flooded with light both above and below the water, which should make evening swimming popular.
The Mount Vernon Daily Argus, June 1929
The three-day Playland water carnival attracted thousands of spectators who witnessed swimming and diving exhibitions. The most spectacular stunt was a dive by Lucille Anderson from a height of seventy-five feet into a tank of shallow water.
The Mount Vernon Daily Argus: July, 1936
How would you like to go swimming in a glass of water? Well that is virtually what you will be doing when you go for a dip at Playland as a guest of The Daily Argus on Newspaper Day, Aug. 36… But the water in which you’ll cavort on your holiday next month is just as pure as the water you drink from a tumbler at your supper table… Samples of pool and beach water are tested weekly… Hourly tests are made of pool water for chlorine and alkaline content. The magnificent Playland pool contains 500,000 gallons of water which passes through a filter system of sand and gravel and is then given a dose of chlorine. All those bathing caps, pins and buttons you lose in the pool are taken up by a huge vacuum sweeper which is run along the floor without draining off the water. The pool is a fine place for a swim, but if you prefer Father Neptune in the raw, the Sound is waiting for you.
The Yonkers Herald Statesman: December, 1965
County Executive Edwin G. Michaelian yesterday instructed James C. Harding, county public works commissioner, to investigate Robert Moses’ latest proposal to bring the Long Island Sound bridge directly into a new submerged Playland Parkway at Rye by bisecting Playland beach and tearing down the present Playland Pool. All facilities would be replaced by the bridge builders at no cost to the county…
The Yonkers Herald Statesman: August 5, 1978
The largest swim meet ever to be held in Westchester County will begin Monday at the Playland Pool in Rye. A field of nearly 600 swimmers and thirty teams is entered in the 53d edition of the Annual Westchester County Swimming and Diving Championships. The meet…will feature forty events for swimmers aged 8 to 17, and will run for four consecutive days, concluding Thursday evening with the crowning of the 1978 County Championship Team…The Rye Golf Club swim teams of 1973, 1974 and 1975 were the first to win the triple crown and retire the “Founder’s Trophy,” awarded annually to the high-point team before being edged by the Rocky Ledge squad in the 1976 contest
The Yonkers Herald Statesman: August 1981
The Larchmont Yacht Club swim team stroked to an unprecedented fourth consecutive title in the 56th annual Westchester County Swimming Championships that concluded Thursday evening at the Playland Pool in Rye. The win marked the first time any team has ever won four consecutive Westchester County Swimming Association titles. Only LYC and the Rye Golf Club teams of 1973-1976 reached the three straight win mark.
The Journal News: August 2015
It was part wake, part a celebration of 90 years. But during the final day of what was billed as the last Westchester Swimming and Diving Championships Thursday enough questions remained to indicate the championships, a longtime staple of Playland Amusement Park in Rye, might continue. The problem isn’t a lack of participants. More than 1,200 kids competed in the four-day event. But the pool’s future has been in limbo since Westchester County, which owns 87-year-old Playland, agreed in June to turn over control of the park to Standard Amusements via a 15-year agreement. Standard Amusements has proposed construction of a water park in the pool area, although details of the plan have been few and the county has yet to sign off on it.
Fortunately, the 91st annual Westchester swimming championships will again take place at Playland’s pool, beginning on Monday, August 1st and ending on Thursday, August 4th (August 5th is the rain date). The diving championships will be held at the Lake Isle Club in Easchester July 25th and 26th (rain date July 27th). If the pool is demolished, a lot of Playland history will go down the drain.