Diving In At The Natatorium

 

40+ years after the last swim | Photo: Bradley Maule

40+ years after the last swim | Photo: Bradley Maule

In the deepest recesses of the Fairmount Water Works, water’s time for recreation came and went fast. The Water Works, having operated from 1812 through 1909, was a first-of-its-kind municipal filtration system that not only provided Philadelphia with clean drinking water, but also a picturesque public space romanticized by the likes of Currier & Ives and Charles Dickens. After the City opened newer and more technologically advanced water facilities, it closed the Water Works and the Philadelphia Aquarium opened in 1911 in its place. The Aquarium lasted until 1962, after which time a portion of it was converted into a swimming pool, with funding coming from Philly’s royal family, the Kellys.

With three lanes, the pool was used by the Kelly family for Olympic training and later given over to the public, the first integrated pool in the City. It stayed in use until it was ravaged by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. While much of the Water Works has been restored—namely in the Interpretive Center and the Water Works restaurant—the Kelly Natatorium has itself sat vacantly. That’s where Hidden City is stepping in to activate the space.

As our ninth confirmed site for the Hidden City Festival 2013, the Kelly Natatorium will be opened to the public for the first time in over 40 years. In the space, art collective Camp Little Hope will create the Bibotorium, an interpretation of a 1920s proposal to create an educational saloon.

For more on this site and project and to contribute, visit the Festival web site HERE. For a preview of the space, click any of the photos below to launch a short photo essay.

About the author

Bradley Maule is co-editor of the Hidden City Daily and the creator of Philly Skyline. He's a native of Tyrone, Pennsylvania, and he's hung his hat in Shippensburg, Germantown, G-Ho, Fishtown, Portland OR, Brewerytown, and now Mt. Airy. He just can't get into Twitter, but he's way into Instagram @mauleofamerica.



Leave a Reply

Comment moderation is enabled, no need to resubmit any comments posted.

Recent Posts
Archeological Dig Will Explore Philly’s Pre-colonial Waterfront

Archeological Dig Will Explore Philly’s Pre-colonial Waterfront

May 24, 2019  |  News

Philly's maritime history on the Delaware River is the focus of a new archeological study at the former site of West Shipyard. Kimberly Haas has the story > more

Unraveling Myths About Philly's Pioneering African American Architect

Unraveling Myths About Philly’s Pioneering African American Architect

May 23, 2019  |  Vantage

Amy Cohen separates fact from fiction surrounding one of Philadelphia's most famous architects, Julian Francis Abele > more

A Fine And Public Space: Preservationists Revive Philadelphia's Historic Cemeteries As Vibrant Spaces For The Living

A Fine And Public Space: Preservationists Revive Philadelphia’s Historic Cemeteries As Vibrant Spaces For The Living

May 21, 2019  |  Vantage

New life is blooming at Philadelphia's historic cemeteries. Starr Herr-Cardillo has the story > more

Appetite For Deconstruction: North Philly Nonprofit Tackles Three Pressing Issues With One Program

Appetite For Deconstruction: North Philly Nonprofit Tackles Three Pressing Issues With One Program

May 17, 2019  |  News

Philly Reclaim brings sustainability, historic preservation, and job training together with its architectural salvage program. Kimberly Haas has the story > more

Arson & Archway Raise Awareness Of A 19th Century Architect

Arson & Archway Raise Awareness Of A 19th Century Architect

May 14, 2019  |  Vantage

Pauline Miller takes us on a journey from Old City to Mount Moriah Cemetery where the work of architect Stephen Decatur Button struggles for longevity > more

A Fond Farewell To Paley Library At Temple University

A Fond Farewell To Paley Library At Temple University

May 10, 2019  |  Last Light

Paley Library closed its doors to the public on Thursday after serving Temple University for 53 years. Michael Bixler says goodbye to the mid-century modern library with this photo essay > more