Donna Reiner, a local historian and a good friend of Get Your PHX, has written many articles over the years for the Arizona Republic and others about what came before us. We use her services when we list properties of historic significance to help us tell the stories behind the homes.
We are happy that Donna is allowing us to re-publish some of her articles on a monthly basis. If you or your business ever needs a historian, let Donna know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Obviously, this article was published originally after labor day. We don’t want you to think that you’ve been asleep for three months when you read this.)
In the Good Old Summertime
Labor Day has come and gone. And the memories of summer have rapidly faded away. If only the Phoenix weather reflected the change. But oh no….it’s still HOT! And the natural inclination is to want to cool off in any pool or one of our many lakes.
In “vintage” times, school didn’t start until after Labor Day, and by then the bristling heat had cooled to more “tepid” figures. However, things are different now and we all, young and old alike, ache to find some way to cool off. So, what was it like in the pre and post WWII era? Where were those swimming holes besides Riverside Park before you had one at your house?
Granted the canals were an option before they were cemented, although not always safe. But there were formal, noncity owned pools which often opened in April and closed right after Labor Day. Many even provided picnic areas and dance pavilions.
The Arizona Republic had listings of such places although it can be difficult to sort them all out as they changed owners and names. Cottonwood Pool, opening in 1946, was at 4524 N. 7th Street by the Grand Canal. Like many pools of its ilk, icy cold water from wells fed the pool and the overflow went back into the canal. Broadway Pool at approximately 20th Avenue and Broadway was also filled with icy cold well water. The sea blue paint of the pool with silver trim was something to see along with its high and low diving boards. The teen club, Hullabaloo, opened on the site of that pool in 1967.
George Bailey Nelson had two pools. His first near 40th St and Thomas Road had a sandy bottom when it opened in 1927. After he closed that one in 1944, he built another near 19th Avenue and Turney. It too had cold well water with the overflow going back into the nearby canal. One frequent user mentioned the pool finish as “sprayed on gunnite [which]was very rough and would tear up the wet skin on your knees.” This popular pool allowed huge tractor inner tubes which was a favorite of boisterous teenagers. When the pool closed in the 1970s, it became a fishing hole.
Joyland Pool near 35th Street and Van Buren boasted being the largest pool in the valley with its 220’ length when it opened in 1924. It had a sandy beach, multiple diving towers, and a slide. Saguaro Beach located on the current site of Circle K Park in South Phoenix had two pools. The larger round one had a slide and the other was strictly for diving.
Alas, none of these pools survive beyond photos and memories.