Swimming Pool, Belfast City Park, ca. 1938
Enjoying the view of the bay from City Park and taking a dip in its salt-water swimming pool were pleasant ways to spend a summer day in the 1930s. The park offered plenty of other attractions and amenities: bath houses, a picnic pavilion, clambake ovens, sports fields, a playground, horseshoe pits, and concerts in the bandstand.
It also had a campground, and at the park entrance on Northport Avenue, the city erected a large sign welcoming tourists.
Development of a city park was initiated by the Belfast Improvement Society, an organization of women devoted to making Belfast a more attractive and sanitary place to live. They prevailed upon the city to hire foresters to trim trees, to clean up vacant lots, and install rubbish barrels, and they landscaped downtown areas.
In 1903 they conducted a successful petition drive that resulted in the city's purchase of a 15-acre lot between Northport Avenue and the shore for a city park. It officially opened on September 9, 1906. Volunteers made improvements to the lot, and the Improvement Society paid to have roads put in. The city contracted with Boston landscape architect E.L. Beard to develop a plan for the park.
The salt-water pool and seawall in the park were built in 1936 as a Works Progress Association project under Franklin Roosevelt's administration. Thousands of swimmers used the pool the first year it opened.
A new fresh-water pool was built in the early 1970s. The site of the original pool became the park's lower parking lot.