Brooklyn History Photo of the Week: Children Playing in the “Old Swimming Hole”

The Old Swimming Hole, Fort Greene, c. 1900-1925, v1973.6.311; Photography Collection; Brooklyn Historical Society.

The Old Swimming Hole, Fort Greene, c. 1900-1925, v1973.6.311; Photography Collection; Brooklyn Historical Society.

1915, Fort Greene Clinton Hill. Children are seen playing with an old Brooklyn fire hydrant, which was jokingly referred to as the “Old Swimming Hole.” The hydrant was located at the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Ryerson Street in what is now Fort Greene Clinton Hill. Many children used hydrants to socialize and have fun, while others used them as a way to bathe themselves if they did not have running water in their homes. The first Brooklyn fire hydrants were installed on street corners in 1808 and were given the nickname “Johnny Pumps.” The originals were made of wood, but were quickly replaced with iron flip-lid style hydrants in 1817.

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3 Responses to Brooklyn History Photo of the Week: Children Playing in the “Old Swimming Hole”

  1. Bill Jobson says:

    That’s actually further down Ryerson closer to Park, at a corner of a lane or alley that no longer exists. What appears to be a curbstone is a hose leading to the sprinkler.

  2. Elizabeth Call Elizabeth Call says:

    Neighborhood boundaries are continuously changing and shifting, as Francis Morrone points out in our Fort Greene Clinton Hill Neighborhood & Architectural History Guide, ” Fort Greene and Wallabout, like Fort Greene and Clinton Hill to the south of Myrtle Avenue, are not historically distinct neighborhoods. They became distinct when the Fort Green Houses were built to the west of Carlton Avenue in the 1940s” (p.5). Certainly the intersection of Myrtle Avenue and Ryerson Street is today Clinton Hill, so thanks John for pointing this out!!!

  3. John Brandt says:

    Ryerson and Myrtle is considered Clinton Hill in my book. Was it called something different in 1915? Nice photo!

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