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.

Each Thursday BHS emails a photograph of the week exclusively to our eNews subscribers. These images are culled from our collection of more than 50,000 photographs of Brooklyn and the New York City area. The photographs are also tweeted by BHS and displayed on our blog in a running series. Interested in seeing more photos from BHS’s collection? Visit our online image gallery. Use this database to search for individual photographs. Currently a small number of our images are available online, but we regularly add new photographs. You can also visit BHS’s Othmer Library Wed-Fri, 1-5 p.m. to search through our entire collection of images.

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