In 1966, the NYC Parks Department rolled out, sometimes literally, a set of portable swimming holes for city residents. The mini-pools were an interim solution, "a pilot program under the Lindsay administration" that all started with "two pre-engineered, pre-fabricated 20' x 40' aluminum or steel above-ground pools with 6' wide attached wooden decks," according to the Parks Dept. The pools were for kids under 14-years-old, and were fairly shallow at 3½ feet.

They cost $25,000 each to build, and were meant to be a little cool-off center for underserved neighborhoods. They traveled all over the five boroughs, and were easy to transport. In just a few years, by 1972, there were 72 of them.

Then, during the Heckscher administration, swimmobiles were introduced. While the portable pools were phased out with the addition of more permanent structures, these seemed to last into the 1980s. In 1987, the NY Times spoke to 12-year-old William Ricks in Brooklyn, who was enjoying a new swimmobile—he told the paper, "My friend Raymond isn't here today, and he'll never, ever believe this. It's like a U.F.O." The trucks would be parked in the streets all day, before rolling back out at night.


While the Parks Department hasn't answered our inquiry about the possibility of the swimmobiles returning, a few years ago some luxury dumpster pools surfaced as part of the DOT's Summer Streets initiative.