For nearly three decades, McCarren Pool sat decrepit and empty, a hulking eyesore overlooking McCarren Park. It was a rotting reminder of the past in a neighborhood that was seeing so many changes for the better.
But the pool almost became an empty lot. In 1989, after local community residents fought the city on restoring the pool because they felt it might attract outsiders to the neighborhood, money was allocated to tear it down.
A local community group was formed – Friends of McCarren Park – to oversee the demolition. But a few brave members of that group came to their senses, and behind the deteriorating facade they saw the possibility of a great future, and broke and formed their own group – the Independent Friends of McCarren Park – but this time dedicated to stopping the demolition.
They worked, lobbied, and raised funds to try and save the pool, all the while calling attention to its historic past and the asset that it could once again be to the neighborhoods of North Brooklyn.
And 23 years after it was nearly torn down to the ground, the pool and its majestic bathhouse re-opened to the public with a $50 million facelift.
The story isn't so much about the pool and preserving the history of New York City, so much as it's about what a group of civic-minded individuals can accomplish in the face of so much opposition. There wasn't always a lot of support for reopening McCarren Pool over the years, but seeing it restored today, we doubt few would argue that it wasn't worth fighting for.
The lesson is that if a few determined voices can bring about a $50 million dollar renovation of a building that was all but given up on, imagine what a few voices can accomplish on your block?