Associate Professor of Architecture
City College CUNY
Warm Water: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Childhood at the WPA Swimming Pools in New York City.
During the New Deal, Robert Moses, Commissioner of Parks, organized the construction of eleven public swimming pools in New York City. Historians charge Moses not only tolerated race prejudice in the pools, but also deliberately segregated them in East and Central Harlem. “Cold Water” shows the sweeping charges do not hold up under close scrutiny of the physical city. Moses, a racial conservative, embraced centralized planning, standardization, and other features of modern architecture to make “separate and equal” a tangible reality for children in the new pools. Framing the discussion in terms of individual prejudice discounts the actions of children, who integrated pools in some neighborhoods, allowing democratic citizenship to grow through play.
Marta Gutman teaches architectural and urban history at the Bernard and Anne Spitzer School of Architecture at the City College of the City University of New York. Her research centers on the history of public architecture for children. Gutman is an editor Buildings & Landscapes: The Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum