In the shadow of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and just a few yards from the dirt heaps of a dusty construction site, blue and yellow beach umbrellas bloomed. Classic songs like John Lennon’s “Imagine” floated over an artificial beach stocked with white sand and beach chairs. Smiling teenagers handed out cupcakes and lemonade.
And on Friday, after a countdown from 3, dozens of sweaty people jumped into a turquoise pool with views of the Brooklyn Bridge to one side and the Lower Manhattan skyline to the other.
The pool in Brooklyn Bridge Park, at Pier 2, opened to considerably less fanfare than McCarren Pool, on the Williamsburg-Greenpoint border, did last week. Everything about the “pop-up pool,” as park officials refer to it, is on a smaller scale: it is 30 feet by 50 feet, with a 3.5-foot deep end, and can accommodate 60 swimmers at a time, a far cry from McCarren’s 1,500-person capacity. But on Friday morning, the scene seemed as idyllic as a New Yorker could wish.
McCarren Pool has been crowded every day since opening, sometimes to its detriment. A rash of locker burglaries and two fights, one between swimmers and lifeguards and another between swimmers and police officers, has quickly drawn negative attention to what was hailed as a civic achievement.
There was no hint of trouble Friday morning in Brooklyn Heights. Parents hoisted toddlers into the air and pretended to drop them into the sparkling water, to squeals of delight. Young children splashed their siblings. A few white-haired swimmers dunked themselves in the shallow water and came up smiling. On the beach next to the pool, children flung sand with plastic trowels while their parents flipped through magazines. Passersby on the riverside path looked on enviously as they walked by.
Among the first swimmers was Adrian Benepe, the commissioner of the city’s Department of Parks and Recreation, who took his final plunge into a new pool as the parks commissioner. He is leaving his post after Labor Day.
“Two pools in two weeks for Brooklyn,” Mr. Benepe said, before stripping down to olive-green swim shorts. “It’s a great day for Brooklyn.”
The pool affords easy access to a swim for residents of Brooklyn Heights, Dumbo and the surrounding neighborhoods, where most of the swimmers on Friday lived.
“We think of the park as our backyard,” said Nicole Margalit, 35, a Dumbo resident swimming with her 21-month-old son, Leo. “To be able to take a quick dip so nearby is wonderful.”
Leo does not swim, but he likes to splash, his mother said. “It was actually very nice,” she said. “Perfect temperature.”
Because of the pool’s limited capacity, swimmers can frolic for an hour and 15 minutes before the next group of bathers is ushered in. The pool was not crowded on the first day, though park officials said they expected it to become very popular.
Despite its name, the pop-up pool, which took 11 months to construct, will stay in place for the next five years, and longer if financing can be found to keep it open beyond that. This year, it will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Labor Day. The beach area and concession stand, called the Beach Shack, will be open until 11 p.m. every day.
“They’d be crazy not to make it permanent,” said Clarissa Wertman, 27, who had come from Prospect Heights with a friend, Janine Schatz. When lifeguards shepherded their group of swimmers out of the pool, the two women headed for the picnic tables at the pool’s entrance, where they dried out in the sun.
As the morning wore on, the cupcakes disappeared and the sand sported holes and hollows carved out by toddlers’ feet. Another group of swimmers headed for the showers, leaving their strollers and towels unattended by the beach. Construction continued, but the drone of drills and the rumble of trucks just beyond the trailers that housed showers all but evaporated.