Swimming Pool

From Olentangy Park Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page is under construction. Please remove this notice when complete.

Swimming Pool
Other Name(s) Bathing Pool
Type Activity Space, Sports
Park Section North
Built 1917
Opened 1917
Closed 1937 (park closure)
Length 325 ft. (99 m)
Width 95 ft. (29 m)

The Olentangy Park Swimming Pool opened in 1917[1] and was the second-largest swimming pool in the country.[2] It replaced the Fair Japan exhibit[1][3] for swimmers. The water was first supplied by two 6-inch water mains using city water[4] north of the Figure Eight Toboggan and south of the Whirlwind. It was open for visitors from 9 a.m. to close. In 1919, over 15,000 swimmers used the pool per day.[5] There were lifeguards on duty at all times.[6][7] Starting in the 1920s, the park started hosting diving and swimming contests and exhibitions. The pool remained in use even after the park's last season in 1937,[1] being cut to half the size becoming the swimming pool for the Olentangy Village Apartments[3] until 2005.


The completed pool was 325 by 95 feet (99 by 29 meters) and held 3 million gallons of water.[2] The east side of the pool was 18 inches (45.72 cm) deep and gradually sloped to 9 feet (2.7 meters) deep at the west end. Seats were installed on both sides at first[4] and later, sand was brought in to create a "beach of white ocean sand and seashells"[3] for swimmers. The water was first supplied by two 6-inch water mains using city water[4] and later, the park had its own filtration plant.[8] The pool was designed to drain and fill within a few hours for better sanitation[4] and later was tested daily by a chemist.[8] It could accommodate 5,000 swimmers at a time. In 1918, the pool was painted with white enamel inside and out.[9] For a short time around 1920, there were slides in the pool, but they caused wear on the swimsuits and created a liability due to a number of accidents and were removed.[10] Foodlights were added in the 1930 season to make night swimming possible.[8][11]


A large L-shaped bathhouse was also added at the northwest end of the pool. It was staffed by attendants, separated by gender, and had lockers and showers. A new check-in system was installed in 1919 after the checking room was enlarged. There was a larger staff to help visitors change and valuables were checked in a separate room with sealed and signed envelopes for better security. An outdoor shower was added to the bathhouse to force swimmers to help keep the pool clean and the swimmers acclimated to the chilled water.[5]

Swimsuits and Supplies

Manager Will D. Harris supplied the bathhouses with 3,500 bathing suits when it opened.[4] He later increased the number to 7,000. They were able to be washed and dried within 10 min. after use.[2] By 1924, the park supplied 3,000 swimsuits - 1,000 for women and 2,000 for men. The park would promote buying personal swimsuits in the summer and it saved the park money. The number of visitors bringing their own suit went from less than 3 percent in 1917 to 35 percent in 1924. The admission cost was the same. Suits were bought from Myer-Hess Co. Suits in Chicago. The women's side of the bathhouse was supplied with caps and stockings and the men's side with caps and jock straps for purchase. Visitors could also buy towels. The first years these were offered, the caps and towels clogged the drains and shut down the pool at times. The Haenlein brothers solved this issue by having wire over the suction pipes.[12]


Johnny Weismuller was one of the many artists who performed swimming and diving exhibitions.[3]


1918 season tickets for the pool were $3 ($55.86 in 2022) for visitors.[13] Late in the season, pool tickets were often reduced, such as tickets for the rest of the 1919 season for the pool were $2 ($32.80 in 2022).[14] In 1924, the park hosted "Morning Swims" for children from 10 a.m. to noon where they only paid 10 cents ($1.69 in 2022) with a coupon and supplying their own suit.[12]

Opening Season

Building Delays

Manager Harris wanted the pool to be finished by June 1, 1917.[15][16][4] During the building, the pool's size was enlarged from 300 by 80 feet (91.44 by 24.4 meters) to 325 by 95 feet (99 by 29 meters). Forty to 50 men worked with two large concrete mixers in early June to complete the pool on the scheduled time, but the construction went well past that date. The rush led to two of the workers being injured by a steel beam of a cement conveyor.[17]

Suit Thefts

During its opening season, the park faced swimming suit thefts of more than 150 by mid-August. Attendants caught a woman using a suitcase to steal a suit, so bag checks became part of the policy. Visitors paid 25 cents ($5.50 in 2022) for a swimsuit, and the park paid more than $4 (around $88 in 2022) for each. Manager Harris believed people weren't malicious, just forgetful.[18]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hyatt, Shirley. Clintonville and Beechwold. Arcadia Publishing, 2009.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "New Park Pool Second Largest of Its Kind in United States." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 15 July 1917. Pg. 42.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Barret, Richard E. "Olentangy Park: Four Decades of Fun." Columbus and Central Ohio Historian. Vol. 1. April 1984. Pg. 11.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 "Pool Prospects." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 3 June 1917. Pg. 52.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Fast Check System." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 8 June 1919. Pg. 69.
  6. "Guarding the Pool." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 27 July 1919. Pg. 61.
  7. "Olentangy Park Filled Early with Families Invited for the Day as Guests of Newspaper." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 16 June 1937. Pg. 1.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Cherrington, H.E. "Ohio In Pageantry And Some Other Play Topics." The Columbus Dispatch. 22 June 1930. Pg. 52.
  9. "Real Opening of Park Season." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 26 May 1918. Pg. 41.
  10. Letter from Olentangy Park to Kennywood. Historic Pittsburgh. 11 April 1934. Accessed 14 May 2022. https://historicpittsburgh.org/islandora/object/pitt%3A20210510-hswp-2029
  11. Cherrington, H. E. "Looking Backward at Park and Forward to Film Season." The Columbus Dispatch. 9 November 1930. Pg. 6-F.
  12. 12.0 12.1 Letter from Olentangy Park to Kennywood. Historic Pittsburgh. 9 January 1925. Accessed 14 May 2022. https://historicpittsburgh.org/islandora/object/pitt:20210510-hswp-2052
  13. "Bargain Swimming Tickets." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 31 July 1918. Pg. 18.
  14. "Free Circus and Concerts." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 5 August 1919. Pg. 22.
  15. "Pool for Olentangy." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 25 March 1917. Pg. 48.
  16. "Big Park Is Opening." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 27 May 1917. Pg. 49.
  17. "Workmen Are Injured." Columbus Evening Dispatch. 8 June 1917. Pg. 3.
  18. "Suits Disappear." The Columbus Sunday Dispatch. 19 August 1917. Pg. 58.