Curious History

Curious History

From Celebrity to Next-Door Backyard Pools

Swimming Pool Design

The Great Bath excavated at the site of Mohenjadaro (in Pakistan) dating back to 3rd millennium BC is considered to be the first swimming pool built. The first artificial pool was built by  the ancient Greeks and the Romans for athletic activity and military exercise. The Roman emperors also owned private swimming pools that had fish, and it was called Piscina. During the 1st century B.C., Lord Gaius Maecenas built the first heated swimming pool in Rome.

The popularity of swimming pools spread further after the first swimming competition was held in the 1896 Olympic Games. In 1907, the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, USA came up with the world’s first above ground swimming pool and in the same year; swimming pool was installed on the cruise ship, Adriatic. Post World War I, interest in swimming grew further as standards improved and training was given utmost importance.

Backyard Swimming Pools

After World War II and publicity by Hollywood films such as ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’ made it desirable to have a swimming pool. The stars were shown relaxing at home next to or in their swimming pool in magazines and movies. It was the movie stars who first owned swimming pools as they built enchanting homes, plush landscapes and was considered a status symbol. Pools back then could be afforded by movie stars and millionaires and not the hard working family next door.

The late 20s and early 30s saw firms experimenting with a portable above ground pool made of heavy canvas  tanks that were supported by wooden barrels or steel. By the 40s, manufacturers experimented with Masonite, steel and aluminum frames. The liners were made of synthetic fabric which was fixed over the rail. Like earlier concrete pools, it lacked circulation, therefore, had to be filled with fresh water. The 50s and 60s saw coated steel walls held by the posts made of galvanized steel or aluminum and a 2-inch wide top rail. The interiors were made of vinyl liners to withstand the harsh weather conditions in winters. In 1958, circulation system evolved. Oval-shaped pools were followed by rectangular and square pools. The PVC vinyl liners, mosaic tiles, emerged in the late 70s and the 80s. The 80s also witnessed manufacturers working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to include water safety information packets, safety signs and decals with every purchase of the pool. By the 90s, consumers were provided with a range of options.

From elaborate designs to various features, backyard swimming pools have become ubiquitous.

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