Green Lake Wading Pool’s Historic Roots

July 2, 2015 7:36am

Children_playing_in_a_wading_pool_at_Green_Lake_Park_June_1937 copy

Perhaps nothing signals the beginning of summer quite like the opening of the Green Lake wading pool. With the mercury rising and our recent record breaking temperatures, this little aquatic sanctuary is the premier venue for the kiddos to wade, splash and beat the heat. (Actually, it attracts the young and old alike. Take a look and you’ll undoubtedly catch a glimpse of the “older generation” cooling their heels in the shallow water!)

With the Green Lake wading pool now officially open for business (let’s all breath a sigh of relief!), this is the perfect time to glance back on its long history.

Boys_sailing_boats_in_Green_Lake_wading_pool_Seattle_Summer_1934 copy

The wading pool was part of The Works Progress Administration. Renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration (or the WPA) it was one of many Great Depression relief programs created under the auspices of the Emergency Relief Appropriations Act, which Roosevelt had signed into law. As History.com notes, “The WPA, the Public Works Administration (PWA) and other federal assistance programs put unemployed Americans to work in return for temporary financial assistance. Out of the 10 million jobless men in the United States in 1935, 3 million were helped by WPA jobs alone.”  
According to Seattle.gov, the Green Lake wading pool is part of the city’s “Big Three” projects and is not only one of the most popular, but the largest of its kind.

These two photos from the 1930s show children frolicking and launching sailboats in this little oasis, clearly demonstrating the wading pool’s enduring appeal!