McCarren Park

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Park house in northern part of park

McCarren Park is a public park in Brooklyn, New York City. It is located in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and is bordered by Nassau Avenue, Bayard Street, Lorimer Street and North 12th Street. It is operated by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.

Originally named Greenpoint Park, the park was renamed McCarren Park in 1909 after State Senator Patrick H. McCarren (1849-1909), who began work as a cooper at the Williamsburg sugar refineries and eventually became the Democratic boss of Brooklyn. The park is a popular destination for recreational softball, volleyball, soccer, handball, and other games. It is also used for sunbathing and dog-walking. In late 2004, the park's track was resurfaced and has been a popular destination for running enthusiasts.

Events on the baseball fields of McCarren Park include members of the punk and indie communities gathering to participate in league-controlled kickball tournaments. For several years, the baseball fields have hosted tournament play for the Hasidim; weekend afternoons provide T-ball and softball games for organized area youth groups; Latino families and friends often utilize the fields to play soccer and volleyball into the late hours of the night.

Since June 2003, McCarren Park has hosted SummerScreen in McCarren Park, and The Renegade Craft Fair, a DIY event. The fair attracts artists and creative types, featuring a wide range of merchandise such as reconstructed clothing, comic books, tote bags and other handmade goods.

McCarren Park Pool[edit]

McCarren Park Pool, before renovations.
Dodgeball tournament at McCarren Park Pool.

McCarren Pool was the eighth of eleven giant pools[1] built by the Works Progress Administration to open during the summer of 1936. Mayor Fiorello La Guardia attended the dedication on July 31, 1936. With an original capacity for 6800 swimmers, the pool served as the summertime social hub for Greenpoint and Williamsburg. The building's vast scale and dramatic arches, designed by Aymar Embury II, typify the generous and heroic spirit of New Deal architecture.

The pool was closed in 1984.[1] The reuse and reconstruction of the pool remained a contentious community issue for many years, until the community came to a consensus plan in 2001. The community sought to reconstruct the facility to encompass a skate park, an indoor recreation/performance center, and a smaller pool that could be converted to a seasonal ice rink. The plan was estimated to cost $26 million and had a good chance of receiving public funding, but unfortunately, the budgetary constraints of the City post-9/11 shelved the plan and the pool remained abandoned for the next few years.

In 2005, Clear Channel Entertainment and gave $250,000 to the City Parks Foundation, a private non-profit entity, to do basic stabilization and safety improvements to the pool structure. The first public event in the pool, a dance performance called Agora, choreographed by Noemie Lafrance, was held by Sens Production that summer. In the Summer of 2006, a number of free and cheap public events were held at the pool, including the free SummerScreen film series, Jelly NYC's pool party series and the Williamsburg Film Festival. Clear Channel Entertainment's concert-promotion arm, Live Nation, put on a series of six concerts that were ticketed from $45-$52 (including ticket service fees).

Wolfmother in concert at McCarren Pool in 2006

In fall 2005, the City Parks Department sought an entity to manage the pool events for the summer of 2006, which many in the community interpreted to be a setup for a sweetheart deal with Clear Channel/LiveNation. In 2007, the pool was again being used for concerts, film screenings and other events. Many in the community expressed preference that the pool be returned to its historic use as an active recreational facility, with some space dedicated to cultural events.

In the near-term, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation committed to having the pool open for special events. As part of the 2005 rezoning of Greenpoint and Williamsburg the City appropriated $1 million in capital budget funds for restoration of the pool as a performance space. Also, $300,000 was allocated by the New York City Council in 2006 to support the construction of this seasonal rink.

Renovation in progress

In April, 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that reconstruction of the pool was being funded as part of the City's PlaNYC long-term planning initiative. Total budget was announced as $50 Million. Construction slated to start by 2009.[1]

In August 2008, Wolf Eyes, Times New Viking and Vivian Girls opened for Sonic Youth on the 30th of August 2008. However, the plan brought to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in September 2008 called for a performance space to be included, along with a new pool, an ice-skating rink, a cafe, a community center, and an exhibition center.[2]

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved of the pool's renovation plan on September 9, 2008.[3] Final design renderings were completed in February 2009,[4] and renovation work began in December 2009. The pool reopened on June 28th, 2012.[5] However, its reopening was tarnished by skirmishes between bathers and lifeguards, resulting in injuries to two police officers. [6]


  1. ^ a b c "WPA-Era Pools". New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Retrieved 2011-06-20. 
  2. ^ Huhn, Mary (August 29, 2008). "McCarren Pool Plans Hold Water". New York Post. Retrieved 2010-07-31. 
  3. ^ "Hipsters Out of the Pool: McCarren Redo Gets Green Light". Curbed. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  4. ^ "Hipsters Back In The Pool: New McCarren Park Pool Images!". Curbed. Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  5. ^ Foderaro, Lisa W. (June 28, 2012). "Empty About 3 Decades, Pool From the Depression Era Reopens to Cool Off Brooklyn". New York Times. Retrieved 2012-06-30. 
  6. ^ "Problems at McCarren Park". 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°43′16″N 73°57′07″W / 40.721079°N 73.95185°W / 40.721079; -73.95185