A New Floating Pool with Epic Skyline Views Is Coming to New York City’s East River

Years in the works, the NYC floating pool project will finally become a reality thanks to recent backing from New York Governor Kathy Hochul and NYC Mayor Eric Adams.

Rendering of the plus sign–shaped floating pool at Brooklyn Bridge Park with the Manhattan skyline in the background

Brooklyn Bridge Park could soon welcome an exciting new amenity that will have visitors splashing around in the East River.

Courtesy of Friends of + POOL

Have you always dreamed about swimming in the East River? Probably not. Despite recent efforts to clean up the busy waterway’s notorious contamination and litter, this isn’t exactly a body of water that screams “dive right in.” But what if you could float in the river from the safety of a clean pool? This is what the much anticipated +Pool is offering: a chance to swim in a pool afloat in the East River in New York City. And, yes, it will be filled with East River water that has been cleaned and filtered.

The project has been in the works for years, since 2017, but it will finally become a reality in 2025, thanks to the recent backing by New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, who announced the state’s and city’s support of the pool on January 5, 2024, citing expanding public pool access to city dwellers amid rising heat. The city and state allocated $16 million to build the pool, a smaller version of which will be constructed and tested this summer, in preparation for opening the full pool to the public in the summer of 2025.

A cross-shaped pool with the Statue of Liberty in the background

The pool’s cross-shaped configuration means that it can be divided into pools for kids, lap swimming, sports, and lounging.

Courtesy of Friends of +POOL

The name +Pool references the pool’s proposed shape, a giant plus sign that can be divided into four sections for kids, lap swimmers, sports, and lounging. Or it can be combined into an Olympic-size lap pool or one gigantic play pool. The 9,500-square-foot pool will be filled with 285,500 gallons of water taken directly from the East River and filtered through the walls of the pool in a patented system, which acts almost like a strainer to remove all bacteria and contaminants from the water before it enters the pool. This allows for river swimming without needing to decontaminate the entire river. +Pool will use the Environmental Protection Agency’s water quality modeling software to ensure it meets acceptable cleanliness standards.

According to the +Pool website, the swimming pool will have a maximum capacity of 300 people and will be able to welcome up to 1,800 people per day. An exact location for the pool has not yet been announced.

New York City public pools (there are currently 53 outdoor and 12 indoor public pools) have long been overcrowded, and the rivers are unswimmable. The organization +Pool aims to promote equitable access to the waters surrounding the city, hoping to allow New Yorkers to “swim” in the East River again—something that hasn’t been possible since 1938 due to contamination. Until 1938, floating river pools were common in NYC, with 15 of them having opened by 1890. But pollution made most of the pools unsafe by the 1920s, with the last few hanging on until the late 1930s, when they were finally shut down.

An plus sign–shaped pool in the river underneath the Brooklyn Bridge with the skyline in the background

The pool will use water from the river, and its walls will filter out bacteria and contaminants.

Courtesy of Friends of +POOL

So where can New Yorkers and those visiting New York swim outside this summer, before +Pool opens next year? Aside from the aforementioned free public pools, there’s the waterfront infinity pool on Governors Island, part of the QC Terme spa. Several city hotels offer day passes or cabana reservations for non-guests. These include the new pool area at the recently opened Virgin Hotels New York City; Dream Beach, the glass-bottomed rooftop pool at Dream Downtown; the heated rooftop pool at the William Vale in Brooklyn; Somewhere Nowhere rooftop pool and lounge atop the Renaissance Chelsea; Hotel Indigo Williamsburg’s sundeck and pool; and the buzzy patio and pool area of Rockaway Hotel + Spa near Rockaway Beach. If you’re flying in or out of JFK International Airport, give yourself time to check out the TWA Hotel’s rooftop pool, which includes views of flights taking off and landing and turns into a heated Jacuzzi in winter, making it a year-round option.

Devorah Lev-Tov is a Brooklyn-based food and travel journalist who has been published in the New York Times, National Geographic, Vogue, Bon Appetit, and more.
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