If you’re heading to New York City next year, you might want to add ‘swim in the river’ to your activity list. The city is testing out a 186-square-metre pool, installed in its East River, this June, with the real thing opening to the public in summer 2025.
The self-filtering, floating pool has been talked about for over a decade but this year received USD $12 million in public funding. New York state Governor Kathy Hochul announced the monetary support in January 2024, according to NBC NY, saying she vowed to fast-track the “long-stalled, much-debated innovative floating pool concept”.
The project is also backed by private company + Pool, which has existing grants. Kara Meyer, managing director of +Pool, compared the project to New York’s High Line, a privately funded public park on an abandoned freight line that took years to complete. While she didn’t confirm the location as East River, she did say the pool’s “intent is to be free and open to the public”. It could also host special events or activities that cost money.
The project has previously been described by its backers as an Olympic-sized pool, attached to the riverbed off Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The pool will be four waterbeds in one — a kids pool, sports pool, lap pool and lounge pool, catering to all levels of swimming. It’ll also be equipped with a unique filtration system capable of cleaning 1 million gallons of water per day.
Though in recent years New York’s water has become cleaner, millions of gallons of sewage-contaminated water still drain into its river during heavy rain. The company will work closely with the Environmental Protection Agency and borrow its water quality modelling software to ensure the water stays an acceptable microbiological standard for swimming.
Meyer said the pool would “change the way New Yorkers experience the water”. +Pool’s aim is to drive free and safe access to the waters around New York City for swimming, through community programs and projects like this one.
“A community of people came together to say we want public access to our waters, and that’s a beautiful thing,” she said. “In the next decade, New York’s waterfronts are going to look very different.”