By now everybody's heard about the new pool in McCarren Park, which has been making headlines first for its size and beauty as well as its lines and mayhem. Meanwhile, another new Brooklyn pool has opened in Dumbo to comparatively little fanfare.
I had heard the Brooklyn Bridge Park Pier 2 Pop-Up Pool was going to be small and just 3.5-feet deep. Only 60 people can swim in it at a time, which sounds like an impossibly tiny number, especially when you consider the lines that have been forming outside of the McCarren Park Pool, which holds 1,500 people. So I decided to head over to Brooklyn Bridge Park to check it out for myself.
I'm glad I went. The pool is lovely and much nicer in some ways than other free NYC public pools, but there's a lot of stuff that's important to know before you go.
Although the Pier 2 Pool follows NYC public pool rules, some things are being handled differently. First and foremost, because of its small size, swimmers are let into the pool in sessions. When you arrive you get a wristband for the next available session and you cannot enter the swimming pool area until it's your time.
How does this play out? The pool opens at 10am. We arrived at 9:45am on a weekday and got wristbands for the first session. Within minutes there were no wristbands left for 10am. We claimed some lounge chairs and an umbrella in the lovely sandy beach area next to the pool, showered and put our stuff in a locker (bring your own lock).
At the beginning of the 10am session the pool was crowded, mostly with moms and small children. Within 15 minutes however, people started to drift out of the pool to go sit on the beach. Within half an hour the pool was relatively empty, and people had already started lining up outside for the next session. By the time our session was over, the pool had only two people in it, yet a dozen children and moms were standing in line, waiting to be let in.
I asked the attendants if they were going to adjust the system and they said that they were going to shorten the sessions from 75 minutes to 45, so that people shouldn't have to wait so long. Sure enough, as I write this I see the new 45-minute sessions listed on the Pier 2 Pool website. I think the shorter sessions make a lot more sense.
The upside of the Pier 2 Pop-Up Pool is that its small size keeps it kid-friendly. The sandy beach area with umbrellas is awesome for relaxing between swims, much nicer than putting your towel down on the concrete of most NYC public pools. There is a food concession that serves burgers, hot dogs and ice cream. Plus you have all of Brooklyn Bridge Park at your fingertips, so it makes for a lovely day out.
The downside of this pool is again its small size: It's possible you could arrive and not get a chance to swim. I went on a weekday morning and crowds weren't really an issue, but the attendant I spoke to confirmed that it's crazy on the weekends. No doubt.
Nobody wants to head to the pool with kids and be disappointed. In case the pool doesn't work out, I would definitely prepare them for the possibility of going to the sprinkler park on Pier 6, which is also fantastic.
All in all, the Pier 2 Pop-Up Pool is worth the trip. It's a great destination with other fun things to do nearby both in Brooklyn Bridge Park and in Dumbo. I would recommend getting there at 9:30am to snag some lounge chairs, an umbrella and wristbands for the first swimming session. The umbrellas and chairs are free and first-come, first-served, and you can access the beach area without a wristband.
If going early doesn't fit your schedule then cross your fingers and report back to share your experience. We'd love to hear what the crowds are like at other times of day. So far on weekdays it seems like we could have shown up anytime in the morning and had no problem. I don't know what afternoons and weekends are like and it could change as more people learn about the pool.
Visit the Pier 2 Pool website for session times so you can plan your arrival accordingly and check for any other changes before you go.
Find out about other ways to get wet in NYC in our Water Fun Guide.
This post originally published in July 2012.