Pool #2 at Druid Hill Park – Baltimore, Maryland - Atlas Obscura
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Pool #2 at Druid Hill Park

The only public swimming pool in Baltimore open to Black Americans during segregation is now a permanent memorial art exhibit. 

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For several decades following its construction in 1921, Druid Hill Park operated under a policy of racial segregation. At no place on the premises was this more pronounced than Pool #2, which was the only pool in Baltimore where Black residents were allowed to swim.

Roughly half the size of Pool #1, which was reserved for white patrons, Pool #2 was so popular that swimmers had to be admitted in shifts. Sadly, it wasn’t until tragedy struck that the plight of Black residents’ singular option for safe public swimming came into focus.

In 1953, a young boy accidentally drowned while swimming with friends in the Patapsco River. This heartbreaking loss of life inspired the NAACP to call for the desegregation of the park, and eventually, the organization filed a lawsuit against the city. In 1956, the case was decided in favor of the NAACP by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and all pools city-wide were opened to all patrons regardless of race.

Pool #2 was closed in 1957 and remained unused until 1999 when then master’s degree candidate, Sheena M. Morrison of the Maryland Institute College of Art noticed the neglected pool and surrounding area while jogging. Morrison envisioned an art project to capture the storied past of the historically significant city artifact.

The larger exhibit entitled “Everyday Utopias” features works by 10 artists. Pool #2. The largest piece of the exhibit was transformed into a poignant memorial. The pool was filled to the rim with dirt and seeded with grass. Fixtures including the ladders, lifeguard stands, and diving board frame were painted bright blue. Colorful painted designs adorn the pavement around the pool and there is interpretive signage nearby to provide historical information. This permanent work was conceived and executed by artist Joyce J. Scott that same year of 1999.

The pool is still in very good shape and well kept over 20 years after its original makeover.

Know Before You Go

Pool #2 is located toward the back of Druid Hill Park and there is a small parking lot nearby to facilitate an easy walk to the pool site.

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