October of 1929 played a very significant role in shaping the future for America. Many Americans are quite familiar with what happened at this time-even if they have a hard time remembering dates. During the end of the month, the stock market crashed. This brought upon the well-known Great Depression, which lasted through the 1930s.
By 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration, which provided several million Americans with paying jobs. One of these jobs was the installation of eleven outdoor swimming pools in the City of New York. One of these pools was constructed on the waterfront between 1934 and 1936 in Staten Island's neighborhood of Tompkinsville. Once construction on the 2.56-acre site was completed, it became known as Tompkinsville Pool. On July 7, 1936, it was opened to the public.
Before Tompkinsville Pool had opened to the public, another name was considered for the site. The Board of Aldermen wanted to name the site after Joseph H. Lyons, who had fought in the First World War and died of pneumonia in 1934. Renaming of the site, however, would have to wait until 1938, during Memorial Day weekend. During the dedication ceremony, Lyons' widow, Agnes Morrill Lyons, presented a bronze plaque, which was erected to honor her late husband. The plaque can still be seen posted on the building.
Joseph H. Lyons Pool is actually a bit misleading. This is due to the fact that there are actually three pools located on the site-not just one. The first is the Lyons Outdoor Olympic Pool, which is 165 feet by 100 feet and three and a half feet deep. The other two pools are the diving pool and the wading pool, which are both 68 feet by 100 feet. Aside from the pools, you will also find a bath house, which was at the same time that the pools were installed. This enormous building contains a lobby, a locker room, and a fitness room. When it was first constructed, the bath house was designed so that the areas not being used during the winter months could be used for other recreational activities. These activities included the installation of basketball, handball, shuffleboard, tennis, and volleyball courts.
By the end of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the twenty-first century, there were a few major projects which occurred at Joseph H. Lyons Pool. The first was between 1984 and 1986, when the pools and locker rooms were renovated and electrical, filtration, and plumbing systems were installed. A little over ten years later, between May and July of 1997, the site was equipped with new automatic spray showers. The following year, work was done on the electrical systems. Between September of 2000 and June of 2001, work was done on the circulation system.
About seven years after these renovations were made, on September 16, 2008, Joseph H. Lyons Pool was designated as a New York City Landmark. Included in the landmark designation were the bath house, the fencing, the three pools, and the walls. Today, the streets bordering Joseph H. Lyons Pool are Victory Boulevard to the north, Hannah Street to the south, and Murray Hulbert Avenue the east. To the west is the Staten Island Railroad, with the Tompkinsville Train Station right next to the center.
Joseph H. Lyons Pool may be one of many places which participate in New York City's BeFitNYC Fitness programs, but it is the largest public pool on Staten Island. These programs occur at the Recreation Centers of the City's parks. Once a month, however, there's a special event which occurs at these places: BeFitNYC Free First Monday. It is exactly what the title states: free fitness on the first Monday of each month. The Recreation Center at Joseph H. Lyons Pool opens at seven o'clock in the morning each day. During the week, it closes at 9:30 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, it closes at 3 p.m.