Flashback to early swimming holes

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By Historical Society

In circa 1908, Forest Park had the first swim "tank" in western Cook County, built in the Forest Park Amusement Park.  After a fire swept through the south end of the Amusement Park in 1918, which started in the boiler that heated the pool, the park never quite recovered.  The pool was closed and a few years later, the entire Amusement Park followed.

Then, in 1927, Commissioner Kurt Berliner took the initiative, exclaiming it was a shame that the kids did not have a swimming hole in the hot weather. 

"When we were kids," Berliner said, "we had swimming holes in the Des Plaines, but now the water is too polluted, they say.  If we cannot find a way to purify the Des Plaines water, we should grab off a city block somewhere, excavate it and put in an official pool."

With the cooperation of the village council and Mayor Gold, the old swimming pool in the defunct Amusement Park, was cleared of rubbish, filled with water, and a fence was built (using the lumber from the dance hall in the Amusement Park).  Two lifeguards were hired (one was Vernon Reich- who would later become Mayor), the Kiwanis and Lions clubs stepped in with donated slides and Forest Park had a swimming pool once again.

But the old fair grounds were purchased in 1929 and the pool was to be no more.

 With the need for public park land and activities, Forest Parkers, during the great depression, voted to create a Park District board in 1934, and purchased 15 1/2 acres from Carl Kastrop.  The purchase and development of the property was financed through the government agency the WPA (Works Progress Administration).  WPA Project No. 2509 included a drainage system under the formerly swampy land, a ridge was built on the north, baseball diamonds on the north, and the east section had a wading pool, playground and tennis courts.  The main park district building was erected and behind it a swimming pool.

Opening night ceremonies for the new pool took place in 1938, with admission rates of 10 cents for children and 25 cents for adults.

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